Historic tax reform could take away Hampton Roads’ history

Some fear preserving Hampton Roads history could become a thing of the past.

NORFOLK, Va (WAVY) — Tax reform plans in Washington D.C. could change the look and feel of Hampton Roads cities in the future.

Plans in the House and Senate would either eliminate or drastically reduce the historic tax credit. It’s money developers receive after restoring approved historic buildings.

Since 2002, more than 1,200 historic buildings in Virginia have been restored using the HTC.

That’s more than $3 billion in development.

In Hampton Roads, Norfolk has benefited the most. Just take a look around the mermaid city and you’ll see old buildings taking on new lives.

The Brightleaf Building, originally an old tobacco warehouse, is one example. It is now luxury apartments.

Developers with The Monument Companies also have big plans for the Old Dominion Peanut building across from O’Connor’s Brewing.

“That’s probably a $16 million mixed use project that we would like to do,” Chris Johnson told WAVY.

Johnson said they were supposed to close on that property and another along High Street in Portsmouth in the first half of next year but, with the historic tax credit in jeopardy Chris Johnson is now scrambling to get the deals
done in the next 30 days.

“Which is not a pleasant experience for us,” he said.

Andrew M. Schuman, President & CEO of Hammond’s Brands, which owns Old Dominion Peanut Company reached out to WAVY.com to say there is no deal to sell the building at this time.

Johnson also said that if Congress eliminates or changes the tax credit effective January 1, the landscape of Hampton Roads will change.

New construction is cheaper than restoration, so more old buildings would likely be bulldozed.

Republicans say they are trying to trim such tax breaks in order to deliver across the board tax relief.

Many Democrats disagree.

“In my view its short-sided to remove a tax credit that has such significant impact on spurring local economies,” said Senator Tim Kaine.

Senator Kaine says such projects have created nearly 59,000 jobs and more than $800 million in taxes In Virginia since 2002.

Norfolk alone saw 36 projects and $87 million in investment from 2011-2016.

Kaine is working to preserve the tax credit. Otherwise, some fear preserving history could become a thing of the past.


Historic tax credit projects in Virginia, Fiscal years 2002-2016:

Chesapeake: 0

Hampton: Three projects
– All in 2008
– Rehabilitation expenditures: $57,460,452
– One of the three projects was the Chamberlin Hotel

Newport News: Three projects
– 2004, 2012 & 2013
– Rehabilitation expenditures: $16,375,002

Norfolk: 47 projects
– Projects every year except 2009
– Rehabilitation expenditures: $145,507,773

Portsmouth:17 projects
– 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2016
– Rehabilitation expenditures: $34,261,688

Suffolk: 29 projects
– 2003-2008, 2010, 2011, 2013-2016
– Rehabilitation expenditures: $60,000,205

Virginia Beach: 0