New Report Shows Historic Tax Credits Boost Virginia’s Economy

During an annual legislative reception hosted last week, First Lady Pam Northam highlighted the findings of two just-completed studies showing the sustained and substantial contribution that historic preservation makes to Virginia’s economy, specifically through the state and federal historic rehabilitation tax credits (HRTCs)

One study, conducted by the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University, found that much of the $4.5 billion in private investment would have gone untapped without the incentive of the state’s tax credit being available to property owners, developers, and entrepreneurs. Preservation Virginia’s study examines the impact of the federal Historic Tax Credits (HTC) on Virginia’s economy, finding that the program resulted in $467 million in economic output, supported 9,960 jobs and generated $3.50 for every $1 invested through the first three years.

“These studies clearly demonstrate the sustained and substantial contribution that preservation makes to Virginia’s economy,” said First Lady Pamela Northam. “The Governor and I applaud the Department of Historic Resources and Preservation Virginia for caring for our rich past and preparing us for an amazing future.”

Conducted on behalf of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, the VCU study analyzed the overall impact of the state’s HRTC program from its inception in 1997 through 2017, its twentieth anniversary. During those two decades, according to VCU’s Wilder School, the HRTC program issued $1.2 billion in tax credits and leveraged $4.5 billion in private investment.

Virginia Main Street and Department of Housing and Community Development have always known that our historic resources are great investments!

Find an executive summary from the Wilder School study here.

Believe in Bristol

Tax Reform and Downtown Rehabilitation

From South Boston to Winchester, St. Paul to Norfolk, many of our Virginia communities have seen significant revitalization as a result of the Federal Historic Tax Credits (HTC). In many cases, if not most cases, rehabilitation of historic structures counts on this funding to make those projects work – and the credits are slated for elimination in the Tax Reform proposal under consideration.

Masonic Theatre, Clifton Forge, VA

The rehabilitation, re-use, and preservation of Virginia’s historic buildings is good for the commonwealth’s economy, according to a recent study conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University.  During a 17-year period, nearly $1 billion in tax credits leveraged almost $3 billion in private investment, resulting in the reuse of 2,375 buildings, ranging from warehouses, hotels, and theaters.

Where do you go for more, so you can put this economic development tool to good use?  Let me introduce you to your partners:

Here are your administrative partners.  While the National Park Service ultimately approves the federal Historic Tax Credit, the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (DHR) acts as the “gatekeeper”, administering both the federal and state tax credit programs. All applications go through DHR first and they also provide technical assistance.

Here are your advocacy partners. The National Trust for Historic Preservation and its subsidiary the National Main Street Center, a proven leader of preservation-based economic development, both work to educate national and local community leaders about its value. Your local preservation advocacy partner, Preservation Virginia, promotes this development tool, too.

Rehabilitated Masonic Theatre, Clifton Forge, VA

Preservation Virginia Releases Economic Impact Study of Virginia Main Street Program

Preservation Virginia LogoOn Wednesday, Preservation Virginia released a study measuring the economic impact of 30 years of the
Virginia Main Street program. The report documents the Virginia Main Street program throughout the last 30 years. The report has documented the direct economic effects across Virginia Main Streets since 1985, when the program was adopted in Virginia to revitalize its historic downtowns.

“Preservation Virginia’s study highlights the impressive work the Virginia Main Street program is doing to help our communities across the commonwealth stay healthy, create jobs, grow entrepreneurs and attract visitors,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones. “These communities are one of the many vital assets that will help Virginia prosper in the 21st century.”

Some notable statistics from the impact study range from the number of businesses and jobs created to the amount of private investment and volunteer time. In the last 30 years, 11,908 net new jobs have been created by Virginia Main Street businesses. More than 3,365 net new businesses have been created in our Main Street districts, and these entrepreneurs are a key component to Virginia’s economic strategy. Virginia’s Main Street districts have been able to weather business cycle downturns better than the overall economy. More than $1.2 billion has been invested in Main Street districts, with 71 percent being from the private sector. Almost $2 billion in total economic impact has been generated from the Virginia Main Street districts.

“Beyond the notable numbers, the Virginia Main Street program has helped these communities embrace the cultural history, a sense of community and a wonderful quality of life that attracts visitors, residents and businesses alike,” said Bill Shelton, director of the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.

Preservation Virginia commissioned the report with funding assistance from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. The report details the economic impacts of the Virginia Main Street Program, an approach to downtown revitalization that purses economic development within the context of historic preservation. The study and research includes case studies on three of the 25 Virginia Main Street communities: Culpeper, Harrisonburg and South Boston.

“In 2014, Preservation Virginia commemorated its 125th anniversary. We used this anniversary as a way to celebrate and highlight the many historic preservation efforts and accomplishments in communities across the commonwealth. We commissioned a three-part economic study by the Center Urban and Regional Analysis at Virginia Commonwealth University to measure the impact historic preservation is having in communities across Virginia.” said Elizabeth Kostelny, chief executive officer of Preservation Virginia. “The second phase of the project demonstrates the value of the Virginia Main Street program regionally and on Virginia’s overall economy.”

To view the entire report, visit

Downtown South Boston Logo Image

Destination Downtown South Boston

Martinsville Courthouse Historic Virginia Site of the Month

The Department of Historic Resources (DHR) posted a new slide show for their web feature “Historic Virginia, Site of the Month.”  This month DHR features images and highlights of the changing nature of the circa-1824 Henry County Courthouse, which found new life in 2010 thanks to grants from Save America’s Treasures and the local Harvest Foundation.

The site and courthouse have gone through considerable alterations since Martinsville was established as the seat of Henry County in 1791, with a log courthouse originally built in 1793. A two-story brick courthouse was built in 1824, but all that’s immediately recognizable of that structure are the four columns of the front portico.  Today the 1929 remodeled courthouse is a “contributing” building to the Martinsville Downtown Historic District.

The preservation of the building was spearheaded by Martinsville-Henry County Historical Society (M-HCHS), who from1996 through 2010 worked diligently in phases to restore the courthouse building and adaptively reuse it for the community. In partnership with the County and national and local advocates, M-HCHS reports that the project, originally estimated at more than $1 million, was accomplished for less than $200,000.

The restored building now houses a Heritage Center & Museum, the historical society, and an information center for the New College Institute.  Additional information about the sites in downtown Martinsville can be found on the Martinsville Uptown Revitalization Association website.

Virginia Preservation Toolkit, a green guide?

Historic preservation is gaining popular recognition as a “green” practice connected to broader sustainability goals.  After all, reuse of a historic building is fundamental recycling.  From a national perspective, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has created a Sustainability and Historic Preservation Web resource for homeowners, Main Street communities and preservation planners.   Now Virginia can proudly join the “green” ranks.

Launched in April, the Virginia Preservation Toolkit was created to demonstrate the sustainable benefits of the reuse of historic buildings and to give these tools to owners to their owners.  The Web site was developed through a partnership with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (DHR), Sweet Briar College’s Tusculum Institute and Dominion Virginia Power.  It explains how owners can best work with existing building materials and architectural features to increase energy efficiency — without destroying the historic character of a house or building — and use strategies that often cost less than replacement.

How can these sustainable practices benefit your Main Street community?  How can they further your organizations revitalization goals?  How might a historic commercial building owner use these practices to gain leverage in real estate desirability and property income potential?  The answers may be just a click away.