Dear Governor Henry,
I understand that you are currently reviewing a bill that would revoke state historic tax credits for developers. This would be a humongous loss for Oklahoma, economically. The losses to our state would be realized on two fronts, economically, and in terms of the historic buildings.
1. Just looking at the current list of building projects underway or about to become underway in Oklahoma that would qualify for historic tax credits, that is $185 million in rehab projects that infuses the economy and provides 3,700 jobs and a positive balance of $4.7 million in tax revenues (despite the tax credits, which are only 20%).
2. We also lose historic buildings with more character in them than anything that can be built new. We lose some seriously important character assets that make Oklahoma City and Tulsa the unique cities they are. These buildings will be demolished and paved over with parking lots because without the tax credits, rehabilitation of the buildings will not be economically viable. We lose an important growth asset as well. There is no difference in terms of new residents between 100 new tract homes built on former farmland and 100 new units inside a formerly abandoned unit. The only difference is that it can appeal to a segment of recent college grads that Oklahoma currently does not appeal to as well as other states, and this is a valuable economic argument as well--the priceless intrinsic value of urban development and historic buildings.
As for as incentives go, it is a much, much more efficient use of resources for the state to encourage historic redevelopment through these incentives than to get rid of the incentives and for us to only have sprawl for housing. Apparently myopic conservatives are willing to pay a HUGE subsidy in the way of new roads, new schools, new police and fire coverage, new water lines, power lines, sewer lines, and so on--for sprawl, but we are NOT willing to provide an alternative for smarter growth because we can't shell out the tax credit anymore.
I just can not believe what the conservatives running the state legislature have come up with now, in the interest of "saving money." I hope they realize the irrevocable damage they will do to our cities, our way of life, our state's downtowns, and so on. There are developers currently relying on getting these tax credits for projects already underway. I hope you will not let Oklahoma back out of its guarantee of these tax credits, leading to the financial ruin of everyone currently involved in historic preservation. It will send a message for a long time that historic rehab work in Oklahoma is not worth even considering, and after the moratorium is lifted, there will not be anyone remaining willing to take the chance on historic preservation again.
We will be up a creek, truly, if the moratorium is passed. I hope you will protect Oklahoma from this threat and veto the bill. Thank you very much, and for everyone thing you do.
For those who don't know, the tax credits that enable historic preservation projects in Oklahoma are currently under siege from the state capitol. The bill instituting a 2-year moratorium on historic tax credits was passed in the state legislature by people who obviously do not understand development nor economics. Letters can be sent to Governor Henry, who is currently reviewing the bill, here: