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Historic Tax Credits Revitalize Downtowns

David Hurd and John Ruan III

Des Moines Register

April 17, 2006

[Note: This material is copyright by the Des Moines Register, and is reproduced here as a matter of "fair use" for non-commercial, educational purposes only. Any other use may require the prior approval of the Des Moines Register.]

Developers use Iowa's Historic Preservation Tax Incentive Program to revitalize our communities. Since July 2000, historic tax credits have leveraged $188 million in private investment.

Projects in Des Moines include the Temple for Performing Arts and the Kirkwood Hotel.

However, the demand exceeds the program cap of $6.4 million per year. And, the five-year limit on reserving credits halts new applications.

Legislation raising the cap to $20 million per year has bi-partisan support in the Iowa House and Senate, but may get lost in budget negotiations. It is a classic case of being penny wise and pound foolish. In comparison, Missouri has a similar program with no cap, and returns to the state $1.50 per $1 invested.

Increasing these credits will help redevelop the central core of Des Moines metro and other cities across the state. The program pays for itself. Raising the historic tax credits cap will result in the restoration of local community treasures sooner rather than later -- treasures like the now-empty Younkers building. Otherwise, applications will remain wait-listed.

As the goals of Imagine Iowa 2010 implore..."Iowa leadership demands investment in Iowa's cultural resources."

David Hurd
John Ruan III

Des Moines