The Transylvania Times -

By Park Baker
Staff Writer 

State Official Visits Brevard To Support 'Historic' Tax Credits - Brevard NC

 

Brevard Mayor Jimmy Harris shows N.C. Cultural Resources Secretary Susan Kluttz a pamphlet that describes the location of the animal sculptures around downtown. (Times photo by Park Baker)

On an "awareness tour" promoting the need to reinstate the historic preservation tax credit, N.C. Cultural Resources Secretary Susan Kluttz stopped in Brevard last Thursday to highlight what she said is a "crisis."

The tax credit program provides an incentive to property owners to rehabilitate buildings in ways that preserve their historic character, while also allowing for new use.

"The crisis is that the historic preservation tax credits that have been so important here, as well as all over the state in 90 of 100 counties, expired at the end of 2014," Kluttz said during her visit. "The Legislature did not bring them back, and we have got to get them brought back. This is North Carolina's history, where our grandparents conducted business or lived. We have to preserve these buildings.

"I've been to 33 cities and towns since the tour began the first of the year, and I'm thrilled to be here. I've heard so many great things about Brevard. I'm here to ask for your help, to make sure that legislators in Raleigh hear from you and recognize how important this is."

On Thursday, the N.C. House voted 98-15 to bring back the tax credits, which are also supported by Gov. Pat McCrory. The N.C. Senate has yet to take up the issue. Senate Republicans declined to extend the credit last year in part because it doesn't fit with their philosophy that the tax code should avoid exceptions for targeted groups, according to the Associated Press.

Kluttz said the credits are essential in economic development and sustaining uniqueness throughout the state.

Brevard Mayor Jimmy Harris agrees with Kluttz and said he believes historic preservation is one way small towns in North Carolina and across the nation keep their character.

Since 1998, in North Carolina 2,484 historic tax credit projects have been completed, bringing $1.677 billion of private investment into state communities.

In Brevard, two income producing tax credit projects have been completed since 2000 for a total of $1,309,743 in private investment.

The Chestnut Hill Bed & Breakfast, formerly the Hanckel-Barclay house, on Barclay Farm Road was once the summer home for the Hanckel family of Charleston. It was remodeled in 2001.

The other, the Exchange Building on 36 W. Probart St., was built in 1953 to house the Citizens Telephone Company. Harris Architects purchased the building in 2002, and renovated it to house tenants on the first floor, and their own offices upstairs. The total for that project is estimated at $302,465.

Three residential projects have used historic preservation tax credits in Brevard as well: The 1890 built Grogan House at 24 Warren Lane, the Orr House at 334 E. Main St., and the Brombacher House at 571 E. Main St.

Kluttz said that the tax credits could only be used for properties already on the National Register of Historic Places. When an owner decides to rehabilitate a property, they have to follow federal guidelines, successfully complete the project, file taxes, and only then a property owner is eligible for tax credit.

"That way there is no risk to the state and there is no up front money," she said. "When we studied how to make this work, we found that the tax credits were the only way. It takes a special person to see a vision in an old building, and it takes a special person who is willing to take a risk. "When you go into an old building, you don't know what you're going to find. You don't know how expensive a remodel is going to be."

Kluttz wants to make North Carolinians aware of what her department was doing to reinstate the credits and said that a legislative coalition had been formed in partnership with the state associations of architects, bankers, contractors, downtown developers, economic developers, realtors and city planners, as well as the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners.

On Thursday, Kluttz, along with local officials, took a walking tour of downtown Brevard area, as well as a trip by vehicle to the Railroad Avenue and Rosenwald neighborhoods, and the Brevard Music Center.

During the trip, Harris read a resolution passed by City Council supporting the tax credits program.

"Brevard is a community that values not only its cultural arts and its heritage, but also its historic districts," said Harris. "We have a lot of historic buildings here, the charm and the character, they just don't build them like they used to. We would like to see these historic buildings restored."

Kluttz said legislators should receive a copy of the resolution, saying "they need to know."

City Councilman Mac Morrow said N.C. Sen. Tom Apodaca, who represents Transylvania County, did not support the tax credit. A phone call to Apodaca's office did not provide a response by press time.

N.C. Rep. Chris Whitmire also did not respond to a call for comment before press time.

 
 

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