BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT) - As tax reform is debated in Washington D.C., one Independence County group is concerned about what that reform could mean for their downtown.
Main Street Batesville is worried that their downtown renovation could be slowed if the Federal Historic Tax Credit is eliminated.
The tax incentive gives investors a 20% credit for the amount of money it takes to rehabilitate a building that is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Main Street Batesville Board Member Dr. Diane Tebbetts said the restoration of some of the large buildings downtown will not be possible without that tax credit because most owners simply cannot afford to make the spaces usable again on their own.
"You can't get the investors without the giving them the tax credits and without the investors, no bank in the world is going to loan you enough money to do all the things that need to be done," Tebbetts said. "So what will happen if Congress does away with federal tax credits is that projects like this just won't happen. And in Main Streets all over Arkansas and all over the country, the larger projects will just vanish."
One particular building in Downtown Batesville, called the Adler building, was recently bought and restoration work is about to begin on it.
Tebbetts said if the tax credit wasn't available, those owners would not have bought the building and it would likely have been torn down in the near future.
"When you have buildings like this that have gone through a period of neglect and deferred maintenance, I mean this one has a huge hole in the roof, for instance, they'll just fall down and then what will we have," Tebbetts said. "Just another ugly, empty lot where we could have successful businesses and apartments."
The owners of the Adler building want to have businesses on the ground floor along with two apartments and then add six apartments to the second floor.
"It's coming back here," Tebbetts said. "Our downtown is very lively and the reason is that people are fixing up their buildings and we're getting new businesses coming in but, as I said, for bigger sorts of projects it just can't happen."
Tebbetts encouraged people who want to continue seeing historic buildings restored to reach out to state representatives about the tax credit.
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