Historic bill gets House approval

Published 8:03pm Thursday, April 4, 2013

A bill that will provide an income tax credit for those that pay for the rehabilitation, preservation and development of historic structures passed in the Alabama House of Representatives Thursday and will now go to the senate.

The city of Selma has the largest, continuous historic district by area in Alabama and this bill would directly affect those that seek to revitalize downtown buildings as well as homes.

President of the Selma-Dallas County Historic Preservation Society Inc., Nancy Bennett, said she thinks the passage of the bill will be beneficial to Selma because it does not only help commercial building owners, but the residential owners and rehabilitators as well.

“I think that this can be good for communities particularly for somewhere like Selma,” Bennett said. “It will give people an incentive to rehab and at the same time hopefully give work to local people, local suppliers and in the long run, increase the tax value of the properties which will in turn help the city and the county.”

The Alabama Trust for Historic Preservation collected statistics specific to Alabama about what historic preservation does to create jobs.

Don Rypkema, a real estate economist in Washington D.C., found that with rehabilitation projects, 60 to 70 percent of the project is labor, “most of which is hired locally,” his report said.

He also found the use of rehabilitation tax credits stimulates an average annual private sector investment of $17.4 million and creates and average of 400 jobs.

Ellen Mertins, director of outreach for the Alabama Historical Commission said that dollar for dollar, preservation projects add more jobs to the economy than almost any other form of investment, “and jobs are something that Alabama really needs right now.”

“It would be a boon to historic homeowners and owners of commercial property all over the state,” Mertins said. “Several adjoining states have this legislation and when people are looking to invest in historic buildings, our neighboring states look more attractive than we do.”

State Rep. Darrio Melton who represents Selma in the 67th District said he voted  for the bill to pass, saying it would help Selma in regards to tourism.

“It is a great opportunity for us to benefit in regards to the historic structures and buildings that we have in our area and I think it’s a great economic opportunity for the city,” Melton said.

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