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Schumer to push revitalization of landmarks in visit here

Efforts to revitalize vacant and under-utilized landmark buildings like the Statler Towers, the AM&A’s building and the H.H. Richardson Complex need a big boost of government aid to spur redevelopment, according to U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer, who is pushing to expand and extend two major federal tax credits.

New York’s senior senator is scheduled to tour the Statler today with local developers and push his plan to support rehabilitation of dozens of historic structures throughout Buffalo.

The goal is to restore life to the structures and make them attractive to businesses by prodding developers to renovate them. That will bring much-needed jobs and dollars to Western New York, while boosting downtown development and honoring Buffalo’s past, according to a news release announcing Schumer’s 3 p.m. tour.

Besides the senator, the tour will include Statler owner Mark Croce, Larkin Development Group Managing Partner Howard Zemsky, Ciminelli Real Estate Corp. Executive Vice President Dennis Penman, R&P Oak Hill’s Gary Bichler, Krog Corp. Chairman Peter Krog and Uniland Development Co. executive Laura Zaepfel.

Schumer will call for an extension of the federal New Markets Tax Credit, which is set to expire at the end of the year. That credit, which covers 39 percent of the investment costs for eligible projects and is aimed especially at low-income communities, has been a key piece of many past development efforts in Buffalo. So “its extension is key to continuing on the progress that has been made downtown,” according to the news release.

Additionally, Schumer is backing the Creating American Prosperity Through Preservation (CAPP) Act, which would increase the federal historic tax credit from 20 percent of investment costs for smaller projects up to $7.5 million to 30 percent of the cost. It will also make more buildings eligible for the benefit.

Historic and new markets tax credits have already been a major factor in such projects as Rocco Termini’s Hotel @ the Lafayette and Zemsky’s Larkin at Exchange Building. Schumer is expected to say that his “plan to ensure the availability of this federal support” will aid other potential initiatives as well.

The proposal “would help harness the huge revenue-generating potential of Buffalo’s renowned historic buildings, and keep the recent progress of downtown’s revival moving forward,” the release said.