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AIA Ohio Testifies on behalf of Historic Preservation Tax Credit

Robert D. Loversidge, FAIA, President and CEO of Schooley Caldwell, Columbus, testified April 28 before Ohio General Assembly's 2020 Tax Study Commission on behalf of Ohio's Historic Preservation Tax Credit.

 Following is his testimony:

The Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit (OHPTC) has been a significant economic development tool since it was created by the Ohio General Assembly in 2006. According to the Ohio Development Services Agency it has directly benefitted 398 historic structures, in 52 Ohio communities, representing $4.4 billion in redevelopment investment.

OHPTC is an efficiently-run, ultimately fair, and effective incentive program that we believe should be retained or expanded by the General Assembly. Several reasons for this include: 

  •  Incentives are needed to encourage property owners and developers to pursue renovation of historically significant structures, especially in distressed downtown areas, where these structures are likely to be underutilized or vacant.
  •  The OHPTC program has a proven track record of being revenue-positive for the State. For every $1 million in awarded historic preservation tax credits, the return on investment is $6.7 million - this according to studies conducted by Cleveland State University. This report also notes that for every $ 1 million in credits, the return is $8 million in construction spending, $32 million in operating impact, 83 construction jobs and 299 operations jobs. This information is available on the Ohio Development Services Agency's web site.
  • The Ohio program requires periodic cost-benefit analyses to check in on the effectiveness of the program. A recent cost-benefit analysis involving a project in Warren, Ohio demonstrated that 31% of the state's investment of $630,800 in historic tax credits was recovered before the tax credit was awarded. One-hundred percent (100%) of the state's investment will be recovered in new revenues by the fourth year of operation. By year 10 the building will have generated additional state and local tax revenues of $494,000 in excess of the amount of the credit, or a return on investment of 80%, and by year 15 the building will have generated approximately $839,000 in new tax revenues, representing a return on investment of 130%. 
  •  One significant advantage of the OHPTC program is that it is totally integrated/coordinated with the companion Federal Historic Preservation Tax Credit program, creating a powerful and complementary program that is administered concurrently and according to the same set of rules. The Ohio Historic Preservation Office (at the Ohio History Connection), using primarily Federal funds, reviews projects for both programs at the same time, saving the state money that might be needed to administer  separated programs. Owners get the advantage of receiving the 25% State tax credit and the 20% Federal credit - a powerful incentive to re-use our historic resources. 
  •  OHPTC rewards only successfully completed projects. Unlike other programs, the tax credit certification comes only after the approved design is documented to have been completed. Uncompleted or poorly completed projects do not receive the benefit.
  •  Renovation of historic buildings creates more jobs than equivalent new construction, and it is "greener."Economist Donovan Rypkema points out that new construction is about 50% labor and 50% materials, whereas restoration and renovation can be as much as 75% labor - that is, for every dollar spent you get twice as much local employment, and use about half the resources.

Many Ohio businesses have benefited from this creative incentive program, and it has been an effective tool in our state's efforts to beat back the recent recession. During this period, developers and owners who found themselves unable to pursue "normal" development paths to financing suddenly "discovered" OHPTC! My small firm has completed seven historic tax credit projects since 2008, ranging in scale from a small scale courthouse square project in Newark to the adaptive use of the 45 story LeVeque Tower in Columbus, and from a burned out building that was vacant for ten years in Chillicothe to the adaptive use of the Old Ohio School for the Deaf as a private high school for underprivileged kids. It is fair to say that none of these projects would have been possible without OHPTC.

Mr. Chairman and members of the Commission, we commend your efforts to examine all portions of Ohio's tax structure to examine better ways of doing things. OHPTC is a highly successful, extremely effective, efficiently-run, revenue positive program of the State of Ohio. It creates high-paying jobs - more than new building construction - in communities, big and small, all over our state. 

It is not broken . . . please retain this very important economic development tool.

Mr. Loversidge is an award-winning historic preservation architect, a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, recipient of the AIA Ohio Gold Medal, and an Ohio Commodore. He has served as Ohio's Architect of the Capitol since 1989.

Downtown Redevelopment Bill On Way to Governor (Sub. HB 233)

The House of Representatives sent the Downtown Redevelopment Bill (Sub. HB 233), to Governor Kasich for his signature following concurrence in Senate amendments.

Sponsored by Rep., Kurt Schuring the bill is designed to assist in redeveloping strategic areas within Ohio’s downtowns. The bill uses as its core a historic preservation project that qualifies under the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit. By way of background, the Historic Preservation Tax Credit went into effect in 2007 and has been widely successful throughout Ohio in restoring historic buildings. Many of those restoration projects have been in downtowns. Sub. H.B. 233 is intended to compliment those projects by offering new economic development tools that will have a synergistic effect on a designated area within a downtown and will provide a critical mass of activity that can support a place where people can live, work, and play.

The legislation allows a municipality to establish a Downtown Redevelopment District in ten-acre increments. The district must have a historic preservation project in it in order for the district to be formed. Up to 70% of the additional property taxes from the appreciated value of the historic preservation project can be diverted to pay for promotion of activity within the Downtown Redevelopment District 
and revolving loans to other businesses in the district, infrastructure improvements, and 
debt service on construction loans. 
These dollars will be used to support other economic activity in the district and will serve as a building block to the revitalization of the downtown as a whole. 


The legislation also allows for the establishment of an Innovation District to be established with in the Downtown Redevelopment District. The Innovation District will use a 100 gigabyte broadband connection to facilitate IT research and development in the form of business incubators and accelerators. These types of districts have been on the rise in recent years, attracting leading-edge businesses and the talented workers that go with it. The districts will foster a paradoxical alliance of combining old buildings with new high-tech job opportunities that create a sense of place that is very attractive to young people. 

Registration Board's CE Bill On Way to Governor

The Senate passed the Ohio Architect Board's Continuing Education Bill, HB 243 April 20.The bill grants the Ohio Architects Board the power to revise the types of activities that qualify for continuing education credits. 

Although the Board has no plans for immediate changes to these activities, it believes that HB 243 is needed to clarify the issue in light of the Legislative Service Commission’s contention that the Landscape Architects Board, which operates under identical statutory authority, didn’t have the ability to change the types of activities that qualify for CE.

OSFC Backed School Lease-Purchase Provision Included in Capital Bill

Local school districts could forego additional voted bond funding to secure state facilities assistance and instead use lease-purchase agreements to generate their share of the money under language included in the new capital construction budget.

Budget Director Tim Keen recommended including the financing method in SB310 (Oelslager) after the Ohio School Facilities Commission (OSFC) undertook a study of the idea and voted to endorse it last month. 

Current law already allows the use of lease-purchase agreements on projects, but does not include explicit authorization for districts to use them to provide their share of OSFC projects. The biennial budget, HB64 (R. Smith), ordered the commission to look into the issue. 

According to the Legislative Service Commission (LSC) analysis of SB310, districts would be allowed to use the agreements so long as the financial documents protect the state's superior interest in the project, and use of the financing method is agreed to by OSFC in consultation with the Ohio Department of Education (ODE). 

Per current law on lease-purchase agreements, the deals provide for a series of one-year leases across the useful life of the facility, but not more than 30 years, according to LSC. 

Another provision of SB310 expands districts' ability to split their OSFC projects into segments by lifting a current law requirement that each segment be worth at least 2 percent of a district's tax valuation.

The proposed capital budget includes $650 million for K-12 school construction projects -- $100 million in GRF-backed debt, $100 in GRF cash transfers and $50 million in lottery profits. Legislative leaders have said they do not anticipate any changes to the bill, and expect it to pass by month's end.

$2.6 billion Capital Budget Bill (SB 310)

Ohio’s $2.6 billion Capital Budget Bill (SB 310) was introduced and had its first hearing before the Senate Finance Committee on April 12.  It’s expected to clear the legislative process in roughly two weeks.  Testifying before the Committee was Office of Budget and Management (OBM) Director Tim Keen.

Read more: $2.6 billion Capital Budget Bill (SB 310)

AIA Ohio Member Profile: One on One with Aaron Hill, AIA

Aaron Hill

Job Title:  Partner Architect, with Richard Fleischman + Partners Architects (w/firm for 13 years)

AIA Involvement: Cleveland Board Representative to AIA Ohio and AIA Cleveland Immediate Past President

 

1. What is your design philosophy?

Architecture should be more timeless than fashionable.  Buildings must be understood, accepted, and loved for a very long time.  Every project is unique and needs to find its meaning in its program and site.  I try to find an original idea that can drive the design, an idea that can make the building tell a story and mean more than it would if I was making a certain kind of style.  I think the most important common thread that should be prevalent in every design is natural light.  The aesthetics of a building can be very subjective, but everyone can find inspiration in great space and light.

 

2. What advice do you have for Emerging Professionals about getting involved in the profession? How can they make a difference?

Get more actively involved in the AIA.  Firms cannot always provide leadership opportunities for emerging professionals early in their careers, but the AIA offers a plethora of such roles that will help you grow both personally and professionally.  A well rounded architect is not just good at creating buildings, but one that is a civic person.  Architecture is complicated and involves a lot of things, but it mostly involves communication and teamwork, and that can be gained through involvement in the AIA.

 

3. As the “iLookUp” campaign enters its second year; how do you explain what an architect does to those outside of the profession?

Architects change the way we live.  Architecture is about imagination, vision, and ultimately transformation.  Architects have to listen and observe how society lives and create inspiring spaces to reflect that ever evolving culture and bring people together.  Architecture is not simply about construction, but about society, people, culture, and community.

 

4. What is your favorite building in Ohio and why?

I’ll say two, and for the same reason.  The 1890 Cleveland Arcade and the new Atrium at the Cleveland Museum of Art.  Similar in scale (the size of a football field) and function (as a civic crossroads), they are both light-filled uplifting spaces that seem to fly.  If Cleveland’s weather forces you indoors, there is no better place to be than these two grand rooms.

 

5. Tell us something about you that would surprise most people.

 

I was raised in Florida, and made the uncommon migration from the sunshine state to Cleveland following graduate school.  Thirteen winters later, I still love it here.

New Ohio School Barricade Rules Concern Disability Group

The Ohio building standards board on Friday gave final approval to rules allowing schools to deploy barricade devices in the event of an active shooter, but a disability rights group said they are not consistent with federal law ensuring equal access.

The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that locks be usable by people with disabilities and doesn't hold an exception for the devices, according to the Ohio Disability Rights Law and Policy Center.

That inconsistency may prevent some school employees from being able to use the devices and "has the potential to create an environment where they are discriminated against because of their inability to operate this device," said Michael Kirkman, the center's executive director.

The new rules overseeing the barricade devices take effect in 10 days.

Parents, school districts and device manufacturers lobbied lawmakers to allow the devices after school shootings, including the 2012 killing of three students in Chardon, in northeastern Ohio.

Arkansas, Kansas, Michigan, New Jersey and Ohio are among states that have updated their fire or building codes to allow the devices. Some devices used in Ohio and elsewhere slide under doors and could require that holes be drilled into the floor for security pins. Others attach to door handles.

The federal disability law is outside the board's authority, said Steve Regoli, the board's architect project administrator. As a result, it's up to schools as employers to explore options to comply with the disabilities law, he said.

"If there is an employment issue then they've got to deal with making some accommodation on how they could use that device," Regoli said. That could include an alternate device or some other assistance to use it, he said.

Skeptics say the devices are complicated to install under stress and could lead to dangerous unintended consequences, including blocking authorities from an attacker inside a classroom.

The Ohio board previously opposed the devices, calling them "unlisted, unlabeled and untested" in a report last year. But lawmakers approved them, forcing the board to adopt new rules.

Some schools went ahead and purchased devices with approval from local fire marshals. Others stopped the process, worried the device they wanted would run afoul of the new standards.

In Toledo, Emmanuel Christian School was within two weeks of installing its selected device last year when it canceled the order because of concerns about the upcoming codes.

The K-12 school of 375 students still hopes to purchase devices once it reviews the new standards. Interim school administrator Ron Farrington says the building is already secure but the devices would add peace of mind.

 

"It's just one more step to help us be just that much more proactive in this area," Farrington said.

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