Bill Would Quadruple Tax Credits For Historic Renovation

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There is a move in the state legislature to quadruple the size of tax credits available for some historic renovation projects, in an effort to make Wisconsin a more attractive place to reuse old buildings.

Right now Wisconsin has a 5 percent state historic preservation credit. The proposed legislation would take that up to 20 percent. Supporters say that’s in line with what Minnesota offers developers.

Jim Schmitt, the mayor of Green Bay, says his city has at least two large scale projects that are looking for private investors.

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“We have an older city with a lot of opportunity for historic renovation, and we need to be competitive with these developers who look around the Midwest for opportunities and we also need to be competitive with suburban properties…It’s sometimes cheaper to build new than to renovate.”

One project mayor Schmitt is negotiating is a 1920’s hotel in downtown Green Bay. He says making over the Northland Hotel could cost up to 25 million dollars.

“I think with this legislation, if this can get fast-tracked and get through our legislature and signed by the Governor in the next 60-90 days, that coupled with some other things that we have here in the city…I think we could find a developer to take on that project and really bring that back to a five-star hotel in downtown Green Bay.”

Schmitt says just the prospect of the increased credits has made the project more attractive. He says a tentative deal between the city and investors could be unveiled later this week.

The Historic Tax Credit bill is just being introduced and is awaiting committee assignment.

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