SIDNEY — Building by building, city of Sidney officials and property owners are hoping to restore the downtown area to reflect the city’s history.

A step was taken toward that goal Tuesday during a meeting with Joyce Barrett, executive director of Heritage Ohio, Marianagela Pfister, Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer for Technical Preservation Services, Nathaniel Kaelin, Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program manager, and Lisa Brownell, historic preservation tax credit application coordinator.

“We are helping people save places that matter,” said Barrett.

There are three historic tax credits available to people who are restoring historic buildings, she said.

The first is a 10 percent tax credit and is for buildings that are not on the National Register of Historic Places and were built prior to 1936.

The second is a 20 percent Federal Historic Rehabilitation Investment Tax Credit. The third is a 25 percent Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit.

Kaelin told those present that the tax credits can be used to restore anything that is permanent in the building, such as the roof, doors, windows and masonry. The state credit, he said, is competitive and there is $60 million allotted for it each year in the state budget.

“Fifty percent of the applications don’t get approved the first time,” said Kaelin. “We have a transparent 100 point scoring process. We look at what’s been done in the city and county before. We’ve never funded a project in Shelby County before so that would add to your point total.”

Kaelin said a property owner can figure out 94 of the 100 points before they submit an application as the process is a self-scoring method.

“We’ll work with you on the last six points,” he said, which include readiness for the project, financing for the project, tenants in place and job impact to the area.

“The final decisions are not political,” he said.

Pfister said 97 percent of the projects will go after both state and federal funding. The federal program is under the jurisdiction of the National Parks Service of the United States Department of the Interior. The program has the same set of 100 points for its standards as the state program.

“The 20 percent tax credit is for income producing properties,” said Pfister.

If a restoration project is going to cost the property owner $1,000,001, then they could be eligible for tax credits of $450,000 if they apply for both the state and federal tax credit programs.

“The federal program is not competitive,” said Pfister. “It’s for the rehab of buildings and you must meet the standards. It’s only for income producing projects.

“Both reviews (state and federal) go through our office,” she said. “A $1 million project would have $450,000 tax credits available. The federal tax credit can be carried forward for 20 years.”

The tax credits are available for anyone, she said. The agency is encouraging people to take advantage of the program. The federal tax credit program has been in existence since 1986.

“We’re on your team,” said Pfister. “We are invested in getting your project approved.”

Pfister said in 2015, the state of Ohio had the largest number of the second part of the applications submitted in the nation.

“We’re second in QRE (qualified rehabilitation expenditures) behind New York,” she said. “We have the third highest numbers of properties on the historic registry in the nation. Ohio is in the lead of historic preservation in the nation.”

Barrett said the tax credits are a win-win situation for both the property owner and the state of Ohio.

“All taxpayers don’t want their taxes to go flying out the window,” said Barrett. “That’s why we do an economic impact of the projects. The tax revenues from the projects will pay the state back what they put out through the tax credits.”

The Secretary of the Interior’s standards have 10 principals which govern everything the departments do, said Pfister.

A pre-application meeting is held with each person applying for a tax credit. Items that are not correct or more information is needed is red flagged for the property owner to go back and complete.

Part two of the process is the actual submission of the application.

“My goal is to visit every project,” said Pfister.

Barrett said the process can be assisted if the local governing agencies know what the Department of the Interior standards are.

The Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit program completed its 100th project in 2015. The projects have led to $1.4 billion total project investment; impacted 28 communities; rehabilitated 120 buildings; created 3,439 housing units; and has rehabilitated 8.7 million square feet of buildings. One of the projects rehabbed through the program is the Fort Piqua Plaza in Piqua.

Attending the meeting were Sidney Mayor Mike Barhorst, Sidney City Manager Mark Cundiff, Downtown Sidney Director Amy Breinrich, Army Zorn of the City of Sidney Downtown Revitalization Task Force, Julie Gilardi, Shelby County Historical Society, and Cindy Helman, property owner and member of the task force.

By Melanie Speicher

[email protected]

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822; follow her on Twitter @MelSpeicherSDN. Follow the SDN on Facebook, www.facebook.com/SidneyDailyNews.

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