Credit Worthy News

North Carolina Rehabilitates Historic Tax Credit

Posted by Richard Sidebottom on Friday, October 2, 2015

NODA Mills | Charlotte, NC
NODA Mills | Charlotte, NC

For many years, North Carolina was the poster child for healthy historic tax credit programs (HTCs). It was a shining example of how a state program can spur private real estate and economic development. Numerous historic rehabilitations testify to the success of the former HTC and North Carolina Mill Tax Credit programs. Some impressive examples are Wake Forest Biotech Place in Winston-Salem, a master-planned development that transformed the former R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company complex into offices and research laboratories, and the many abandoned mills around Charlotte brought back to life as affordable housing, breweries and mixed use developments. With a user-friendly state tax credit program and the outspoken support of a strong statewide preservation organization, Preservation North Carolina, the state was a hotbed for historic rehabilitations, with the sixth highest number of projects in the country just prior to. In 2014, 44 rehabilitation projects received Part 3 approvals with a total of more than $56 million spent by the private sector on qualified rehabilitation expenditures (QREs).

That is why it was so disappointing that the state HTC and the state Mill Tax Credit programs were allowed to sunset at the end of 2014. Even before the HTC was gone, a campaign driven by Governor Pat McCrory and Secretary Susan Kluttz of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources was underway to reinstate some form of these instrumental revitalization programs for the Tar Heel State. According to the 2014 report, Decades of Success: The Economic Impact of Main Street in North Carolina, sponsored by the North Carolina Department of Commerce and North Carolina Main Street Communities, nearly 300 projects in Main Street districts alone used the historic tax incentive between its inception in 1998 and 2013, with private investment totaling over $190 million in rehabilitation costs.

Good news came in the last few weeks from the North Carolina legislature! A revised tax credit program combining the HTC and Mill Tax Credit programs was included in the budget bill recently passed by the legislature and signed by Governor McCrory. While final details of the program are subject to change, the program should begin on January 1, 2016 and will include the following:


  • Income-Producing (combines Commercial & Mill)
    • Reduces base credit rate to 15%
    • +5% for mill ($3M spending requirement has been eliminated)
    • +5% for economically distressed counties
  • Home-owner Residential
    • Reduces to 15% credit
    • Applies a cap per project QRE @ flat project ceiling ($150K)
    • $10,000 minimum over 24 months


  • Income-Producing (combines Commercial & Mill)
    • $0 to $10M base rate
    • $10M to $20M base rate reduced by 5%
    • Hard cap at $20M
  • Home-owner Residential
    • $150,000 cap

Can now be claimed all in one year. All credits claimable once building is placed into service with a 10-year carry forward.

Combined credits claimable against income taxes, grow premium taxes and corporate franchise taxes. 

The combination of the above results in a maximum per project cap of $4.5 million. This may not be as generous as the combination of the previous programs, but it will have a positive impact on a majority of the potential projects in the state and spur continued economic development. 

The North Carolina SHPO will be promulgating new regulations in the coming months and we will make sure to provide updates.

Contact us if you would like to know how these or other state HTCs can bring equity to your historic rehabilitation project. 

Topics: policy, North Carolina, HTC, MHA Southeast

Historic Tax Credit Programs Make States Economically Competitive

Posted by MacRostie Historic Advisors on Friday, July 10, 2015
Historic Lincoln School Apartments | Shawano, WI
Historic Lincoln School Apartments | Shawano, WI
Completed in October 2014, this former high school was converted to a 24-unit affordable housing apartment building. 

State tax credit programs come in many shapes and sizes, but one commonality is the economic impact they have of bringing investment to historic cities throughout a state. Many of these cities have historic resources related to a period of industry that certainly once shaped the community but now sit abandoned. Repurposing these buildings is a viable and important path to reinvestment. 

Another commonality is that state historic tax credit programs are often threatened from the beginning, as there is inevitably a debate between the dollars coming in as investment versus the dollars going out as tax credits.

Just such a debate has been ongoing in Wisconsin for the past year. Governor Walker proposed to cap the state tax credit program, which was just raised to an uncapped 20% program in January 2014, while the legislature has been working to preserve it in its current form. Since the program change, just 18 months ago, 25 projects have utilized the 20% credit resulting in an estimate of $480 million in construction spending and $88.7 million in annual operations according to a study done by Baker Tilly.

As consultants on historic rehabilitation projects, we often see immediate results on these state programs once they are signed into law. “Our Midwest Office noticed a surge in the volume of Wisconsin rehabilitation projects in 2014 and 2015 due to the new state credit, including more small and medium sized projects which may not have been viable without the added bump from the increased state credit,” notes MHA partner and Midwest director, Allen Johnson. “We are also seeing projects being undertaken in small towns and cities where previously our work was wholly in Milwaukee.”

The good news is that the Wisconsin legislature prevailed and the program will not change in the coming year.

Meanwhile another scenario is playing out in North Carolina where several tax credit programs, mostly targeted at the state’s large resource pool of historic mills, have been allowed to sunset despite showing a strong economic impact since their creation in the late ‘90s. Myrick Howard, President of Preservation North Carolina, noted in his recent op-ed piece for the News & Observer that “the revival of downtown Durham, Raleigh, Winston-Salem, Asheville, Salisbury, Mount Airy, New Bern and Edenton, to name a few, hasn’t been coincidental. Nearly $2 billion have been spent by the private sector, stimulated by this statewide incentive.”

NODA Mills | Charlotte, NC
NODA Mills | Charlotte, NC

Wisconsin is fortunate to have preserved its credit and will certainly have a competitive advantage when it comes to attracting developers, especially from another state in its region, Michigan, which lost its state historic credit several years ago. Developers that are experienced in using the historic tax credit programs are expanding beyond their home states in order to take advantage of these benefits elsewhere.

In a time of shrinking state budgets and less federal support, legislatures often look to “grow” their state budgets by eliminating historic tax credit programs despite several studies that show there is a positive return on investment from these programs. In addition to the construction dollars and jobs generated by rehabilitation projects, there is a long-term affect at the local level of taking a building that may have been completely off the tax roles and returning it to use, which generates increased real estate taxes that often funds schools or other local infrastructure.

Hopefully North Carolina and other states will follow Wisconsin’s lead in supporting programs that can have a significant economic at the local level while knitting back together the architectural fabric that makes these cities and towns whole.

Written by Albert Rex, Partner and Director of MHANortheast

Topics: historic tax credit, North Carolina, Wisconsin, MHA Southeast, MHA Midwest, state policy