CLINTON — A bill that would increase the amount of tax credits available for renovation of historic buildings has area leaders enthusiastic about its potential impact on the city of Clinton.
Senate File 436 calls for the historic preservation and cultural and entertainment district tax credit program to be expanded from $45 million to $60 million dollars in the upcoming fiscal year up to fiscal year 2016. At that time the amount will be reduced to $50 million.
The bill passed through the Iowa Senate with no opposition last Wednesday. Sen. Rita Hart, D-Wheatland, during a legislative coffee on Saturday at the Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce, said Clinton has the potential to reap substantial economic benefits from the bill.
"It means a lot to Clinton particularly," Hart said. "It's a great bill to be passed. It's a great investment bill."
If the expanded program encourages more development, it would also mean construction jobs and promote private investment, which would provide an economic boost for the area, Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Nathan Sondgeroth said.
Historic tax credits have played an integral role in downtown Clinton renovations including the Van Allen, Howes and Armstrong buildings. All three of those rehabilitations were funded at least 15 percent by historic tax credits. According to those who have performed such renovations, the cost to restore an old building is nearly double what it is to construct a new building, making tax credits and other incentives critical to developers' bottom lines.
"It's helps to encourage developers and that's what you need," Clinton Engineering Co. manager Mike Johnson said.
Johnson's company performed the renovation of the Armstrong Building that houses the Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce as well as apartments in the upper levels. Johnson said the greater availability of tax credits could stir development.