Written by Erica Stewart
February 6, 2012 was a big day for fans of skilled jobs, green building and community revitalization through historic preservation. Yesterday, Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) announced that he, along with Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME), would introduce new Senate legislation that would encourage historic rehabilitation in Main Street communities, promote energy-efficiency in rehabilitation projects, and make the credit more accessible to nonprofit organizations. This legislation was introduced in the House last summer, and achieving Senate introduction was the next big milestone for the National Trust and its allies.
The new legislation, the Creating American Prosperity through Preservation (CAPP) Act, would make an already powerful federal historic credit even more so. Over 32 years, the credit has created 2 million jobs; saved 37,000 historic warehouses, factories, and schools; and attracted $90 billion to local economies.
Senator Cardin made his announcement at a press conference at historic Clifton Mansion, which now houses Civic Works, a nonprofit that helps young people prepare for the workforce. The mansion, located in a low-income section of northeast Baltimore, is a poster child for how historic preservation, green energy and community development can intersect - with the federal historic tax credit being the catalyst. Civic Works’ Executive Director Dana Stein talked passionately about how the historic tax credits will make possible the mansion’s $7 million makeover, which will seek LEED Gold certification (a great goal considering their current $17,000 energy bill).
More hard work lies ahead for the National Trust and its allies. Now that both bills have been introduced, our attention will turn toward getting members of Congress on board as co-sponsors. Despite its track record of job creation and community revitalization, the impact of the federal historic tax credit is not widely understood.
In the words of National Trust president Stephanie Meeks, the historic tax credit is simply too important to lose. We will be working hard to educate lawmakers about the power of the federal historic tax credit and the importance of the CAPP legislation. And we’ll need your help.
To join our effort, please take a minute to sign our pledge to help protect and enhance the historic tax credit.
Erica Stewart is the outreach coordinator for the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Public Affairs department.