Trends of the Trade Texas Legislature Passes Historic Preservation Bills During the 83rd Texas Legislative Session, lawmakers passed two bills in support of historic preservation: HB 500 and SB 111. Both are awaiting a signature from Governor Rick Perry. Omnibus bill HB 500 includes the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit, the first of its kind in the state, which would allow a credit of up to 25 percent of eligible expenses incurred in the rehabilitation of certified historic structures. If approved, the law would become effective on January 1, 2015.
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Anna Glover Hudson, executive director of Preservation Texas, which led grassroots efforts in support of the bill, commented that the organization is glad to see a new tool for developers and property owners interested in revitalizing historic districts and landmarks. “Historic rehabilitation is a known economic driver, especially is small cities where one or two rehabbed properties can spur a renewed interest in downtown or along a commercial corridor,” said Hudson. “It will be important for architects to understand the tax credit, as they are often the first resource that property owners look to when planning a rehabilitation project.” SB 111 requires the Texas Historical Commission to designate buildings that meet certain requirements as “Texas Historical Use Buildings,” a designation that makes the buildings eligible to apply for restoration grants through the state’s Preservation Trust Fund. Eva Read Warden, chair of the Historic Resources Committee of the Texas Society of Architects, praised the piece of legislation as “a significant opportunity to help ensure that some of the character-defining buildings of our local communities are maintained for future generations.” However, she also noted that funding available through the Trust will need to be evaluated in future legislative sessions to ensure that enough money is available to support the number of projects deserving such support.