Friday, November 10, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
Featured image: The Maywood Home for Soldiers’ Widows.
The proposed tax reform bill that was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on Nov. 2 could have ramifications for the future of Maywood’s economic development. The bill would eliminate the Historic Tax Credit program, a 20 percent tax credit available to developers looking to restore historic, income-generating properties.
The loss of the credit means that properties like the Maywood Home for Soldiers’ Widows, which has been vacant since 2003 and is currently owned by the village, could be even tougher to put back on the tax rolls.
The building, located at 224 S. 1st Ave. in Maywood, anchors the corner of Lake St. and 1st Ave., one of the busiest commercial corridors in the area. The tax credit works as an enticement for prospective developers who might be leery of starting a rehab project that could entail a lot of upfront costs, but that also comes with possible long-term rewards.
A historic photo of the Maywood Home for Soldiers’ Widows. | Maywood Historic Preservation Commission
“The tax credit is a big incentive, particularly if you’ve got a property in an area that’s not really hot, but has great potential,” said Tom Kus, the chairman of Maywood’s Historic Preservation Commission. “Twenty percent is a big chunk of money.”
In order to qualify for the tax credit, buildings must be either locally or federally certified historic structures and the work has to meet rehabilitation standards set by the Secretary of the Interior.
The Oddfellows Building in Maywood. | chicagogeek / Flickr
A July report produced by the National Park Service and Rutgers University explains that the tax credit, which was created in 1976, “is designed to not only preserve and rehabilitate historic buildings, but to also promote the economic revitalization of older communities in the nation’s cities and towns, along Main Streets, and in rural areas.”
According to the report, over 55 percent of the redevelopment projects that qualified for the tax credit in fiscal year 2016 were located in low- and moderate-income Census tracks.
The Baptist Retirement Home in Maywood. | Debbie Mercer/Flickr
“Many of these projects involved buildings that were abandoned or underutilized, and in need of substantial rehabilitation to return them to, or for their continued economic viability,” the report explains.
In addition to the Home for Soldiers’ Widows, there are at least two other properties in Maywood whose prospects for redevelopment could be affected by the loss of the tax credit program.
The Oddfellows Building, at the corner of 5th Ave. and Washington Blvd., and the Baptist Retirement Home, on the 300 block of Randolph St., are both currently vacant commercial properties that could be redeveloped with the help of the tax credit. According to Kus, both buildings seem easy candidates for local or federal landmark status. VFP
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