In early 2016, the Abandoned Property Coalition, a network of community leaders, and local, regional, and national organizations developing community-based solutions to vacant, abandoned, and dilapidated properties across West Virginia, held a strategy session to determine what the Coalition should focus its energy on over the course of the next year. Four people, including representatives from the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia, signed on to research the possibility of pushing forward policy around increasing the rate of West Virginia’s historic rehabilitation tax credit from 10% to 25%.
One major issue the group quickly came to realize was that although West Virginia has 92 commercial and mixed-use historic districts ripe for revitalization –developers choose to invest in neighboring states instead of our downtowns due to West Virginia’s uncompetitive 10% historic rehabilitation tax credit. Neighboring states, including Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia, all have 25% historic rehabilitation tax credits.
With this realization, the group quickly grew and was joined by a pro bono lobbyist. By the time legislation reached the floor during West Virginia’s 2017 regular session, the effort had grown to 39 organizers, and featured 38 cities, counties, and organizations who endorsed the proposal. The effort gained enough traction to merit four bills introduced in the House and Senate with 34 legislators sponsoring those bills.
The original group of four had spawned a grassroots movement in support of improving communities statewide that called itself Revitalize West Virginia’s Downtowns Coalition, https://revitalizewvdowntowns.com/. The group went on to attend 85 meetings with legislators, hold five public forums to educate more than 200 people total, and host a website that reached more than 3,000 individuals.
The state historic rehabilitation tax credit bill passed out of both the House and the Senate during the regular session but died in conference committee on the last day. In an attempt to revive the legislation, the Office of the Governor included the historic rehabilitation tax credit increase as part of a larger taxation bill during the 2017 special session. The taxation bill ultimately failed.
The momentum and widespread support this policy received in its first year of introduction is a testament to the great value that West Virginians place on revitalizing their downtowns and — perhaps more importantly — the progress four people with a policy idea can make once they cast a wide net. The Coalition has already begun plans to reinvigorate this effort for the 2018 legislative session.
You can continue to support the historic rehabilitation tax credit increase leading up to the next regular session. Ask your Delegates and Senators to make the state historic rehabilitation tax credit a priority in the upcoming regular session. Invite Delegates and Senators in your district to meet with you while they are at home. Ask them to meet at a historic property or in a downtown environment that would benefit from the historic rehabilitation tax credit increase. And don’t forget to say Thank You!
Thank the Bill Sponsors!
Majority Leader Ryan Ferns (R – Ohio, 01)
Robert H. Plymale (D – Wayne, 05)
Ryan Weld (R – Brooke, 01)
Mike Maroney (R – Marshall, 02)
Glenn Jeffries (D – Putnam, 08)
Mike Azinger (R – Wood, 03)
Sue Cline (R – Wyoming, 09)
Douglas E. Facemire (D – Braxton, 12)
Richard Ojeda (D – Logan, 07)
Corey Palumbo (D – Kanawha, 17)
Mike Romano (D – Harrison, 12)
Randy Smith (R – Tucker, 14)
Dave Sypolt (R – Preston, 14)
Mike Woelfel (D – Cabell, 05)
Ron Stollings (D – Boone, 07)
Greg Boso (R – Nicholas, 11)
Robert D. Beach (D – Monongalia, 13)
Ronald F. Miller (D – Greenbrier, 10)
Erikka Storch (R – Ohio, 03)
Marty Gearhart (R – Mercer, 27)
Assistant Majority Whip Eric L. Householder (R – Berkeley, 64)
Joe Ellington (R – Mercer, 27)
John Shott (R – Mercer, 27)
Guy Ward (R – Marion, 50)
Majority Whip Carol Miller (R – Cabell, 16)
Gary G. Howell (R – Mineral, 56)
Paul Espinosa (R – Jefferson, 66)
Mark Zatezalo (R – Hancock, 01)
Assistant Majority Leader John D. O’Neal IV (R – Raleigh, 28)
Rodney A. Pyles (D – Monongalia, 51)
Jill Upson (R – Jefferson, 65)
New Member Coordinator Assistant Whip Chuck Romine (R – Cabell, 16)
Chad Lovejoy (D – Cabell, 17)
Linda Longstreth (D – Marion, 50)