Hey Governor: Sign This Bill Today, We Get to Work Tomorrow

Several members of our New York legislative delegation and our developer community gathered last week to send a message to Governor Cuomo: we’re ready when you are.

The bill to raise the per-project cap on historic preservation tax credits from $5 Million to $12 Million passed both houses of the state legislature with only a single dissenting vote in the session completed last month.  It is now awaiting the Governor’s signature.  According to Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, the Governor has pledged to sign the bill, but our delegation isn’t taking any chances.  And our local developers, not wanting to lose any more of the construction season, are saying the sooner the better.

Mark Croce congratulated the local delegation, pointing out that they recognize the State spending a little now for preservation tax credits means reaping a great return over a longer period.  “Preservation equals jobs,” Croce said, pointing to the rich stock of large historic buildings in the city that the raised cap will help to preserve and return to community use.

Having written about New York’s historic preservation tax credit program for several years (e.g. here, here, and here), my favorite feature of a press event about the program is hearing community leaders sing the praises of historic preservation, and promote the economic development benefits.  This week’s event was no exception — both elected officials and several prominent developers weighing in, following Senator Grisanti’s lead.

TaxCreditCapPresser.jpgImage credit: Senator Mark Grisanti

“Rehabbing buildings creates more jobs than new construction,” Grisanti said.  “It increases property and sales taxes, tourism, and quality of life.  By increasing the cap we’ll see the floodgates open on projects that have been long thought about but have been considered too expensive.”  He encouraged the Governor to sign the bill, and do it quickly, “while the weather is friendly.”

Assemblyman Sean Ryan thanked his colleagues for their work on the bill, the gathered developers, and the other “local businesspeople who take risks on these buildings.”  He pointed out that developing historic buildings can be more expensive, especially if asbestos and lead abatement are involved, so raising the tax credit cap helps to level the playing field in favor of preservation and reuse.  He said he expects it to encourage more projects like the Lafayette, the Statler, and the Richardson-Olmsted complex.

Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes also pointed to those iconic projects, especially the Statler, which she called our “crown jewel.”  She wants to see the whole project completed, saying that when that happens, “we’ll have grown this community by leaps and bounds.”  She also mentioned key buildings on the east side, including the Buffalo Central Terminal, and old Public School 59 at Fillmore and Best Streets, across from Martin Luther King park (pictured above).

Rocco Termini congratulated the local delegation, saying, “when you work as one, things get done.”  During the rehab of the Lafayette, he said, he had 270 people working every day, and that now the building supports 160 new full-time jobs.  The increased cap would make possible the undertaking of the mammoth AM&As complex across the street.  As soon as the Governor signs off, he will get AM&A’s underway the next day, Termini said.  But he then surprised the crowd by revealing that he had already started leasing the building, so sure was he of the Governor’s signature.  In fact, he has it 100% pre-filled, he said.  He did not give the name of the tenant or tenants.

TaxCreditCapAMA.jpg
Developer Nick Sinatra said that two years ago he moved back to Buffalo, “with out-of-town capital to invest here.”  To date he has rehabbed a number of older buildings (Buffalo News profile) which are “important to the fabric of the community,” and that the increased cap on the preservation tax credits would allow him “to look at projects that they might not be able to otherwise.”

Sinatra told me later that he has been looking at using preservation tax credits for his Fenton Village project at Main and Ferry, and at the same time is looking at including 1524 Main, the smaller Italianate storefront building that Buffalo Rising commenters have expressed concern about, in the project.  Over the last two months, both the Buffalo preservation board and neighbors have been talking with Sinatra about including that building in the project rather than demolishing it — especially as its condition isn’t nearly as dire as once thought.  Sinatra, greatly to his credit, has been listening to their concerns and ideas.

Laura Smith, Vice-President of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership said the increasing the cap on preservation tax credits was among their top legislative priority.  For New York not to do so, she said, “would be penny-wise and pound-foolish.”  She said that rehabbing older buildings promotes sustainable, healthy, walkable communities and complements smart growth.  The cap increase would be key to the Buffalo Building Reuse Project, a major initiative by the Partnership and the City of Buffalo.

Of all the projects mentioned, the most prominent, of course, is the Statler, which Croce purchased from the bankruptcy trustees and returned to the tax rolls.  To date, he has returned three floors to use, reopening the building last year.  Part of that purchase and project plan involved a commitment of $5.3 Million from the City of Buffalo.  I asked Croce about the status of that funding, and got an earful.

TaxCreditCapStatler.jpg
“At the beginning, we sat down with the City and went through our plan.  Now, we’ve done everything we said we would do: restored the first three levels, created 150 jobs,” Croce said.  “We rescued it from bankruptcy, and returned it to the tax rolls.  Now, we need the $5.3 Million we were promised by the City.”  That funding is needed largely for continued masonry work and new roofing, so that the building is properly stabilized so that the buildout of the upper floors can move forward.

With the Lafayette completed, and the lower three floors of the Statler reactivated, the time would seem to be ripe for both the promised City funding for the Statler and the approval of the higher cap for New York’s preservation tax credits.  That will not only keep the Statler on track for full renovation, but also launch downtown’s next preservation mega-project, reuse of AM&A’s.  As mentioned by elected officials and developers, there are other large preservation projects around Buffalo waiting for just this kind of boost — and Trico is waiting in the wings.  Beyond those, who knows what creative projects may emerge that aren’t currently on anyone’s radar?

Some people use “cranes in the air” as a shorthand for economic development, but in Buffalo we know that “chutes on buildings” — signifying adaptive reuse projects underway — are also signs of jobs and progress.  And Buffalo is sending that message to the Governor loud and clear: provide the tools for the job, and watch how fast we get to work!

About the author  ⁄ RaChaCha

27 comments
MrMarley
MrMarley

What is the word on this bill?

LouisTully
LouisTully

Wasn't the craft brewery bill signed today? Where does this stand? I'd think it's more important than the craft beer bill.

300miles
300miles

He also had time to sign the anti-bullying bill.

Is he only allowed 2 signatures per month?

How far down the pile is the historic tax credit one?

LouisTully
LouisTully

So the governor is reportedly ready to sign the craft breweries bill; so what of this? This should be something he signed the second it hit his desk.

RaChaCha
RaChaCha

Not yet. I saw Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes yesterday, and she told me that the Governor has basically been on vacation for the last week or so, but she has been trying to get a status from his staff (so far it's been phone tag).

She was also delighted with the great picture of old School 59. It's indeed a great picture -- I'm not sure whether Chuck Lachiusa or someone else took it.

JimB
JimB

Any word on this from Albany?? We're getting close to the pocket veto date.

BuffaloQPublic
BuffaloQPublic

There's clear evidence that a million dollars doesn't go nearly as far as it used to. For reference, look at the cost of the BlueCross BlueShield building and the new Courthouse.

The raise of the cap is sensible, reciprocating and greatly needed. Come on governor . . .

Also, the City should release the promised cash to Croce, at once.

The former deteriorating state of the Statler was becoming dangerous. Substantial dollars would have been spent to address that and other critically needed repairs.

RaChaCha
RaChaCha

Don't know -- the Governor usually signs bills in bunches, and I'm keeping my eye out. Shortly after end of session, the Governor signed 23 bills, mostly minor, locality-specific items. Yesterday and today the Governor is in NYC with no public schedule -- which may mean, essentially, he's taking a few days off.

Scott E. Krajeski
Scott E. Krajeski

Do we have any idea when Cuomo would be signing off on this?

RaChaCha
RaChaCha

"

This can't be re-posted enough...

" As soon as the Governor signs off, he will get AM&A's underway the next day, Termini said. But he then surprised the crowd by revealing that he had already started leasing the building, so sure was he of the Governor's signature. In fact, he has it 100% pre-filled "

"

Yep.

300miles
300miles

This can't be re-posted enough...

" As soon as the Governor signs off, he will get AM&A's underway the next day, Termini said. But he then surprised the crowd by revealing that he had already started leasing the building, so sure was he of the Governor's signature. In fact, he has it 100% pre-filled "

grad94
grad94

preservation = jobs!

grad94
grad94

we've told you this before. we'll tell you again. and again and again if that is what it takes.

repeat after me: preservation tax credits cannot be used for new builds. replicating something that was demolished is a new build.

got it?

millertime486
millertime486

Haven't seen it but have heard their is a for sale by owner sign on the AM&A's building. Not sure if that is true or not but any idea what's going on?

brownteeth
brownteeth

Building replicas is pointless. Nobody goes to Vegas to see the "Eiffel Tower", they go to Paris France. Focus on saving what we have and building new builds worth saving a 100 years from now.

The Boss
The Boss

AM&A's 100% filled, WOW, that is kind of a big deal that just gets casually mentioned once in a while.

paulsobo
paulsobo

There is one pillar remaining from the Larkin Building. I wonder if restoration could be expanded to put the pillar and the building back.

It would be awesome for Buffalo NY to be on par with Racine, WI's Johnson Wax building. I dont think any other city would have an FLW Office Building.

We have demolished far to much of Buffalo and we need a way to put back some of these horrible horrible mistakes.

300miles
300miles

How is this bill not signed yet??

And it's great to hear that Sinatra is considering re-using the smaller building too instead of demolishing it! (btw the city just finished installing new sidewalks along that part of Ferry and all the corners of Ferry and Main)

pc
pc

Has anyone heard anything about the old Bernstone's Building on Main & Swan near Coca Cola Field? Only thing I could find was this old BRO article. http://archives.buffalorising.com/story/bernstones With all the Canalside work I would love to see this as a Lunch Cafe or Sports Bar/ Restaurant.

Jesse
Jesse

I like the idea of reusing all these buildings (as I look across the street at the Ellicott Paint Co), brick has such weight to it to which nothing modern can compare...

But how long before not much gets done in Buffalo and the businessmen start claiming they just need a few million more....

Travelrrr
Travelrrr

Great post, Rachacha, and kudos to Nick S. for considering the alternatives to demo.

Lest us also not forget that adaptive re-use of our historic buildings>increased tourism (to see said storied buildings)>revenue + jobs. The positive buzz around town emanates from the Lafayette, the Larkin District, etc. Where are the jobs derived from, and excitement around, the demo of St. Mary's-on-the-Hills, Riverside Men's Shop, Larkin Admin. building, etc.

I think I see a theme here: SAVE IT AND RE-USE IT.

RaChaCha
RaChaCha

Thanks! Yes, that's him - if you get a sec check out the Buffalo News profile of Sinatra linked above.

Here's the hardworking blogger responding to commenters at 5:30AM - please remember that at annual review time, Buffalo Rising ;-)

LouisTully
LouisTully

Related, since I saw it in an older post linked here. Any information on the EB Holmes Machinery building at Chicago and Ohio, I believe?

LouisTully
LouisTully

I like it. I assume that's Nick Sinatra between Termini and Croce? I've been impressed so far. He has a pretty good background, too.

Re: Termini's claim of 100% occupancy. Thus far, I wouldn't doubt anything this guy says. Give him the tools. It's just like with Pegula's Webster proposal. Give these guys the reasonable conditions and they'll do the rest. It's not like some developers that need constant nudging and supervision.

© 2014 Hyperlocal Media. All Rights Reserved.
supplement for beautiful skin skin healthy vitamins for glowing skin phytoceramides a good anti aging cream