The 2015 Sustainable Communities Tax Credit Awards
Designed to make reinvestment easier and bring new life to threatened historic structures, the Sustainable Communities Tax Credit has played a pivotal role in incentivizing private investment in the restoration of Maryland’s historic resources. By rehabilitating historic properties, the program spurs job growth, improves property values and encourages reinvestment of properties, commercial districts and neighborhoods into places where people want to live and entrepreneurs want to do business.
The program not only promotes successful building restoration projects, it also empowers local developers and entrepreneurs to invest in community-enhancing adaptive reuse and renovation projects that breathe new life into the economies of Maryland communities.
On Wednesday, the Maryland Historical Trust, part of MDP, announced the award of $10 million in state tax credits that will fund restoration and adaptive reuse projects at nine unique historic buildings in Maryland. The investment will leverage $76.7 million in private investment in communities and rural historic districts from the Eastern Shore to Western Maryland.
The 2015 Sustainable Communities Tax Credits include a variety of projects that highlight the long and culturally diverse history of Maryland. The approved projects include two unique buildings located at Doughoregan Manor and the nearby Franciscan Friars complex along Folly Quarter Road in Howard County. These two projects call attention to the legacy of Charles Carroll of Carrollton who lived at Doughoregan Manor. Carroll, the longest-lived and last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence, built Carrollton Hall and gave it to one of his granddaughters. The tax credits will allow Carrollton Hall to be turned into a museum as well as help restore another iconic structure that is part of the extensive Doughoregan Manor plantation.
In Cumberland, the four-story 1906 Footer’s Dye building is emblematic of the rich industrial history of Western Maryland. Throughout the 1920s, Footer’s Dye was one of the dominant cleaning and dyeing establishments in the mid-Atlantic. The Footer;s Dye building, next to the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) Trail, will be repurposed into a restaurant and apartments; the project is expected to enhance the activity-based economic development efforts underway in downtown Cumberland.
Other 2015 Sustainable Communities Tax credit projects include the renovation of the Fells Point Recreation Pier on Thames Street in Baltimore, which is proposed for conversion into a 128-room hotel complex with water access onto Baltimore harbor; the adaptive reuse of the locally renowned Taylor’s Furniture in downtown Ellicott City into a restaurant and offices; the restoration of historic Florence Crittenton Hall into apartments overlooking neighborhoods in the Hampden area of Baltimore; the rehabilitation of a commercial structure at 501 Poplar Street in Cambridge into retail use with an apartment; the repair of the iconic Eastwick Motor Company structure on North Avenue in Baltimore, which will transform this one-time Ford auto dealership into shared space for local arts organizations in Station North; and the conversion of the 3 1/2-acre Eastern Pumping Station in Baltimore into a regional food hub operation. The American Communities Trust plans to redevelop the pumping station as the Baltimore Food Hub, including an operating kitchen with a canning facility, a working farm and a produce market. The food hub is intended to serve as a culinary education center and support entrepreneurs, who can rent space to launch food businesses.
The tax credit program helps restore a wide range of historic buildings, allowing their conversion into economically valuable real estate. They encourage new businesses that enhance nearby properties and economic activity in adjacent commercial areas. The program also promotes the use of energy-efficient, green building practices in the rehabilitation process and incorporates sustainable systems into restored buildings. In 2009, the Abell Foundation estimated that approximately 73 jobs were created for each $1 million in tax credits and every dollar invested generated $8.53 in economic activity.
The Sustainable Communities Tax Credit Program exemplifies how public funding can leverage private investment and is one of the tools highlighted in a recent report from the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission. Reinvest Maryland: Accelerating Infill Redevelopment & Community Revitalization presents ideas and examples for government and the private sector to better coordinate and improve local reinvestment efforts to promote building restoration and neighborhood revitalization. The report identifies strategies to address barriers that impede infill and redevelopment. The tax credit has become a successful strategy to encourage the best kind of infill – one that repurposes great old buildings and infuses new life into communities.