Proposal encourages preservation of historic buildings

February 23, 2012

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - They dot the landscape in many towns across the state: old abandoned buildings that have been empty for years.

On Wednesday, state lawmakers introduced legislation to make the old properties more attractive to developers.  

In some cases, these buildings are the oldest, most iconic buildings in towns across the state.

"The three-story white elephants in towns like Sumter, Orangeburg Newberry and Winnsboro, that on a local development, had a difficult time attracting capital to restore and the larger developers it's just too small for them," said Mike Bedenbaugh with the Palmetto Trust for Historic Preservation.

Two years ago, Bedenbaugh commissioned a study to look at the economic impact building incentives would have on state revenue.

Rep. James Smith and Rep. Rick Quinn introduced legislation that would give developers a 25 percent state income tax credit for investing at least $500,000 dollars in the reuse of abandoned property.

To qualify, a building needs to have been mostly vacant for at least 5 years.

"For every $10,000 in tax credit, you can extrapolate that to two jobs once a business locates there so literally hundreds of jobs could be created by every project," said Rep. Quinn.   

"This is an opportunity to bring jobs and economic development to areas which have been blighted for many, many years," said Rep. Smith.   

Smith used the Textile Mill Revitalization Act and the success of the Olympia and Granby Mills as an example.

But historic sites are only part of the bill's goal.

"It also helps any building that's been empty for 5-10 years including shopping malls, big box stores," said Bedenbaugh. "It's kind of refocusing developers back into where people already are instead of spreading our infrastructure away from downtown cores."

Rep. Smith says the bill has bipartisan support and he is optimistic the bill could get passed this year.

Originally posted on WISTV.COM
By Taylor Kearns -

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