If we want a healthier community we need to start with a healthy core city. I am a social worker, turned tax attorney, turned real estate deal maker. I tell you this because those phases of my life have all brought me to this point in my career. You know the theory about the donut. If there is a hole in the middle surrounded by wealthy suburbs, eventually the suburbs will crumble. Besides, urban areas are rich in character, more ethnically diverse and in general are more interesting places to hang out. Given the choice many people would prefer to live work and play in an urban landscape.
Tax credits, whether they be historic, low income or new market fuel urban development deals. Without these tax incentives restoring old buildings in the urban core makes little economic sense. The costs to rehabilitate are more then the fair market value of the buildings upon completion considering the low rents and sales price per square foot. Especially in these economic times when every bank is looking for a reason not to lend money, tax credits are even more important. Yes, tax credit deals take more time, are more complicated and result in higher professional fees. However you can raise almost 50% of the project cost in tax credit equity/ subordinate debt through tax credit programs.
Just recently I read an article in the Sandusky Register Online about the Ohio Preservation Tax Credit and the resultant loss of a deal in the Sandusky area because the program makes it difficult for it to be used with the New Market Tax Credits program. While the article oversimplified the problem, the problem still exists and I and other professionals are having a hard time convincing the Ohio Department of Development and the Ohio Department of Taxation that it needs to be fixed. Basically the program requires the credit to be allocated in proportion to a member’s ownership interest. In other words it does not allow the credit to be “specially allocated” to a member. This is important because urban development deals usually involve federal historic tax credits, state historic tax credit and either low income housing tax credits or new market tax credits. Different tax investors have different appetites depending on their presence in Ohio and their tax liabilities. If the credits could be specially allocated then investors would pay more for them rather then trying to find one investor for all credits.