With Tax Credits In Jeopardy, So Are Oklahoma Historic Renovations

Sunday, February 7th 2016, 10:24 pm
By: News On 6

Certain statewide redevelopment projects could come to a halt under a bill proposed in the senate.

The legislation would place a two-year hold on state-issued historic tax credits that have helped pay for hundreds of millions of dollars worth of projects in the last decade.

Even as this bill is pending, developers already have begun to put projects on hold.

A hundred pages long, the legislation comes when Oklahoma faces a major budget crisis.

One of the things the bill by state senator Mike Mazzei (R-Tulsa) earmarks is a cut in state-issued historic tax credits.

“Screeching halt for a lot of projects, and a lot of projects that have been under construction for a long time,” Amanda DeCort said.

DeCort, who is with the Tulsa Foundation For Architecture, gave examples of city projects that could be impacted if the bill passes.

  • The Palace building at Fourth and Main - being renovated into apartments.
  • 400 South Boston - that developer hopes to bring back to life as a hotel.
  • The TransOK building at Sixth and Main - set to open this summer with more than 30 apartments.
  • We've also learned a $30 million downtown project already has been put on hold.

“There are projects in the works and in the due diligence phase and getting financing and the two dreaded words… I will finance your project "but for" if these credits go away, no money for you,” DeCort said. “It just stops the projects dead.”

But it’s not just Tulsa.

The Noble Lofts in Bartlesville we told you about in November are in jeopardy also.

“It has radically changed our downtowns,” DeCort said. “There are so many Main Street towns just getting on board with this.”

The proposed two-year hold also could impact renovations of the Washington County Memorial Hospital in Bartlesville, The McBrayer Building in Okmulgee and work on the Railroad Exchange Building in Muskogee.

While the bill aims to make cuts due to the state's budget crisis, DeCort points out once these historic projects are completed, they will bring in sales tax, property tax and jobs.

“We can’t afford to get rid of that when we so desperately need it,” she said. “We need it right now.”

We have reached out to Sen. Mazzei, along with a number of other lawmakers, with no response.

The bill is set for discussion at the capitol on Tuesday.