June 07, 2007
Tax breaks for historic buildings passed by Council

Back in March, we heard about a proposal before City Council to grant tax abatements to commercial buildings deemed "historic". Yesterday, Council passed that ordinance.

The council approved a permanent, 100 percent tax abatement for commercial structures whose owners accept "protected landmark" status for the buildings. Owners would have to refund any tax savings, with interest, if they tore down the building or altered its facade.

The measure also adds a five-year "lookback" provision to a more limited tax break approved in 2001 to owners who make improvements to residential buildings designated as landmarks or contribute to a historical district. Under the change approved Wednesday, owners could receive tax breaks for improvements they made as long as five years before the building was designated historic.

White said his staff has identified 50 to 100 commercial properties that qualify for the protected landmark tax break. Most are of modest size with relatively low tax values, meaning revenues lost to the city would be minimal, he said.

At the time of the original proposal, the total amount of the lost revenue was $1.5 million to the city. I presume this hasn't changed much since then.

Councilwoman Addie Wiseman cast the lone vote against the measure.

Nice to know there's some kind of tax cut Addie Wiseman won't vote for. No quote from her, so I can't say what her reasoning behind this was, other than simply saying "Up!" when the mayor says "Down!" I'm sure it would be entertaining to hear, whatever it is.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 07, 2007 to Elsewhere in Houston