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Area Leaders Urge Feds To Spare Historic Tax Credit


Local leaders gathered in Troy Sunday to urge federal lawmakers to keep the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Credit as tax overhaul bills make their way through Congress.

Congressman Paul Tonko, state Assemblyman John McDonald, and Troy Mayor Patrick Madden, all Democrats, gathered along with other officials at the Tech Valley Center of Gravity in the former Quackenbush building on Third Street. The building had been boarded up until about three years ago, but is now serving as a "tech business incubator" thanks to nearly a half million dollars in tax credit funding, according to Holly Cargill-Cramer of the Tech Valley Center of Gravity, who tells NewsChannel13 "It's a significant benefit and really encouraged the developers to put their money into the project."

Advocates argue elimination of the tax credit will hamper growth and revitalization efforts in cities like Troy, where Monica Kurzejeski serves as Deputy Mayor.   "There have been close to, I would say 15 to 20 buildings within the city of Troy that have benefited from this program. It's just been a tremendous asset, all up and down the Hudson River."

Tonko, in audio also recorded by WNYT, refers to the credit as an "urban recovery program."  "I denounced this bill when it was on the House floor."

Assemblyman McDonald mentioned the 400-apartment Harmony Mills initiative in Cohoes as generating more than $250,000 in tax revenue, along with other area sites.  "The Tilley Loft in Watervliet, the Albany Barn in Albany, I could go on and on and on."

The three agree the credit has been critical for preservation and inspiring private investment.  According to Mayor Kathy Sheehan's Facebook page, historic tax credits have supported more than $100 million in development throughout Albany.

Kurzejeski notes the effort to preserve historic buildings in the Collar City got a boost years ago during the Rosamilia Administration.   "The Preservation League actually worked with TAP and the city of Troy to deem the large structures, the textile buildings of the city, its own district, so they were actually designated buildings under the cuff and collar industry historic tax credit. We were able to kind of look at the future of those buildings, even though they were sitting empty at that time, and start the process of the historic tax credit."

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted to eliminate the tax credit as part of the tax bill passed last week.

The Senate version of the tax bill would reduce the credit. Either way, Kurzejeski says Troy has a plan:  "Troy's always been a sustainable city and always pushed forward through any kind of controversy, so I think that this is just one of those things that'll take a little bit more time. The projects that we have benefited, thankfully, over the past several years, are much of the large buildings of the city, so to have them already underway or completed through the Historic Tax credit program and other program incentives, is tremendous for us because now we're focusing on smaller buildings, obviously getting more into our neighborhoods where some of those smaller properties are. So, while we are certainly devastated by this news and know that it will affect the future development of the city, we're also mindful of the fact and appreciative of the fact that a lot of the large buildings that have been done over the past several years were beneficial and had been in benefit of that program."

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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