U of M Extension’s Brigid Tuck provides 11 years of economic research.
When a historic building is spared the wrecking ball and restored to its original charm, a community reaps the benefits of its renewal in many ways. Take, for example, New Ulm’s Grand Hotel, opened in 1860 by German immigrants. Now, it’s a lively center for arts and humanities.
Since 2011, Brigid Tuck, University of Minnesota Extension senior economic analyst, has focused on the dollars that grow out of — and the public-private partnerships aided by — the state’s historic preservation tax credit.
Tax credit renewal
The credit was allowed to sunset when the Legislature failed to pass a tax bill in 2022. Renewal is part of the governor's budget. It has passed through key legislative steps with bipartisan support, although some lawmakers have raised questions regarding the trade-offs of using a historic tax credit, particularly for housing projects.
The tax credit has supported 193 projects to revitalize once-important buildings that had fallen into disrepair, some facing demolition. Calculating the amounts spent on rehabilitation, and the spending that grows out of jobs projects created, Tuck found that the tax credit helped generate $5.8 billion in economic activity.
During the same period, the projects supported nearly 30,000 jobs — both those directly involved in construction and as an outgrowth of the endeavors.
“The work Extension has done has been invaluable in presenting facts.” — Erin Hanafin Berg, director of the Policy Institute at Rethos
Preservation grows across the state
“The work Extension has done has been invaluable in presenting facts,” says Erin Hanafin Berg, director of the Policy Institute at Rethos, a firm that helps guide historic preservation projects across the state.
The work gives Tuck an up-close look at how heritage preservation has changed since the tax credit became law. While more metro-area efforts took place in the early years, Tuck says, “in the last five years, there’s been an uptick in historic preservation in Greater Minnesota.”
One example is St. Cloud’s First National Bank Building, built in 1889 and graced with archways, pillars and stairways made from granite mined in Stearns County. More than 25 skilled tradespeople salvaged the granite during restoration of the building. It once again houses a bank, as well as a restaurant and business offices.
The Pillsbury “A” Mill, an urban Minneapolis riverfront example, provides affordable living, including artists’ lofts. The rescue began with rebuilding its weakened infrastructure. Rehabilitation increased the property value from $3.5 million to $44.6 million.
“In the last five years, there’s been an uptick in historic preservation in Greater Minnesota.” — Brigid Tuck, University of Minnesota Extension senior economic analyst
Intangible benefits, too
It’s hard to put a price tag on other benefits of keeping building character alive, the public-private partnerships aided and the community connections projects create.
“It allows interpersonal connections that often aren’t taken into account,” says Hanafin Berg. “These projects bring together community volunteers from different generations and different walks of life.”
Read the full report on the economic impact of the Minnesota Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit.
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