Share this article

print logo

Historic tax credits key to Buffalo's future

Rocco Termini's impressive restoration of the Hotel @ the Lafayette is a powerful representation of the confidence of Buffalo's past, and the promise of our future.

It also highlights the crucial role federal historic tax credits have in propelling our future, and why the program must be maintained. Without the federal and state historic tax credits, this $34 million project would not have been possible.

This project is significant, not just because it restores an important landmark designed by America's first known female architect, Louise Blanchard Bethune, but also for the economic impact it provides.

The conversion of the historic hotel to apartments, banquet and commercial space has generated 270 construction jobs and will employ 200 individuals. Its housing, restaurant, retail and museum space builds on momentum generated by the rapid expansion at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and renewed interest downtown and along our waterfront.

The National Preservation Conference in Buffalo reminded us that our community has tremendous historical and architectural resources that can bring great opportunity.

The Lafayette joins 15 other historic tax credit projects in Buffalo since 2001 — including the Guaranty Building and the Electric Tower — that have created approximately 1,500 jobs, $65 million in household income, thousands of square feet of commercial space and hundreds of apartments.

And the federal historic tax credit program does not just catalyze investment in Buffalo and Western New York, it has a nationwide impact. In the 30-plus years since its inception, the federal historic tax credit has stimulated 2.2 million jobs and $100 billion in private investment while saving 38,000 historic properties.

The tax credit attracts private development dollars at a rate of $5 for every $1 of tax credits. Over the last 10 years, even amidst significant economic distress, historic tax credit projects had a 99 percent success rate. Equally important, the federal credit is a proven incentive that more than pays for itself.

Since its inception, the program has cost the U.S. Treasury $19.2 billion but its completed projects have generated $24.4 billion in federal taxes.

We need to make sure this program continues because our work is far from done in fulfilling our community's considerable potential. I've joined my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in support of federal legislation (H.R. 2479) that would protect the federal historic tax credit, while also expanding it to work better in all types of settings.

I will continue to fight, especially as we celebrate the success of projects like the Hotel @ the Lafayette that have been completed because of it.?

Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, represents New York's 27th Congressional District.