PAWV sent this letter to Parkersburg's Design & Facade Review Committee the day before its meeting on February 14, 2018. The subject of the meeting was to vote on whether to approve the proposed demolition of the historic Citizens Bank Building located at 401 Market Street. During the meeting, the committee voted unanimously to approve the demolition of the structure. The committee is comprised of Mayor appointees.
Dear Parkersburg Central Downtown Business District Design & Façade Review Committee,
On behalf of the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia (PAWV), the statewide non-profit organization dedicated to historic preservation, I am requesting the committee to table the proposal to demolish 401 Market Street and allow for public comment and additional discussion regarding WesBanco’s redevelopment project. Part of PAWV’s mission is to advocate for sensitive development and design that incorporates historic buildings such as the Citizens National Bank Building and to preserve existing structures that are the keys to downtown redevelopment.
When expanding this study beyond a 1 block radius, the ratio of building footprint compared to pedestrian and vehicle space dwindles even more (see aeriel view above). This is a common trait of unsustainable and unhealthy cities. It is our opinion that parking lot will not improve the economic climate of the City, however, WesBanco can become a leader in enhancing the historic downtown through their effort. Additionally, there are financial incentives for redevelopment and national trends that can be replicated in Parkersburg in which the building located at 401 Market St. can be preserved while meeting the parking and thoroughfare needs of WesBanco. I have included some of these ideas at the bottom of this letter.
As the statewide nonprofit supporting historic preservation, we can provide many ideas in favor of preserving this historic building in an attempt to convince the committee to vote to table this proposal and even vote “no” to the proposal, but ultimately, I urge you to listen to your citizens. Over 500 people have signed a petition asking you to vote “no” to this proposal. It is important to your residents that you preserve what is left of the downtown. It is a treasure, and it is a place that matters. That is why PAWV chose Parkersburg as its host town for the upcoming West Virginia Historic Preservation conference bringing dollars and energy into your community; you have a lot to offer and potential for redevelopment.
You have active residents that care about historic preservation, and this is an excellent opportunity to show forward thinking for future generations.
Thank you for your service and consideration,
FINANCIAL INCENTIVE – HISTORIC TAX CREDIT
The Citizens National Bank Building has been vacant for over a decade, and its redevelopment has been financially unfeasible in the past. However, as of January 1, 2018, West Virginians can take advantage of a combined state and federal historic tax credit of 45% on income-producing properties. Prior to this increase, the combined state and federal historic tax credit was 30%, but a 45% tax credit on qualifying construction activities (interior and exterior) is a major incentive for banks and property owners to rehabilitate historic properties like the Citizens National Bank building.
Tearing down the Citizens National Bank Building for a parking lot and alley is a short-term answer to a vacant building problem that can be incentivized now for redevelopment. Please run the pro-forma again for redeveloping this property using the historic tax credit figures, and this property could be marketed for rehabilitation in a prime location in downtown Parkersburg. PAWV would be happy to lend its services in reconfiguring a pro-forma to demonstrate whether redevelopment of this building is possible now that the historic tax credit is 40%. And if WesBanco also needs additional space for offices, 401 Market St. offers prime street front and first-floor space that can be redeveloped using the historic rehabilitation tax credit. The bank has acquired and redeveloped a historic property at 33 N. Third St. in Columbus, Ohio. The WesBanco Regional President Lisa Robinson was quoted as saying acquisition is a “huge new step for WesBanco”, and we encourage the committee and WesBanco to work together to consider something similar for Parkersburg.
PARKING GARAGE INSTEAD OF PARKING LOT?
According to Parking Consultant, Gerard Giosa, “Surface parking gobbles up so much land that it begins to negatively affect the character and walkability of a downtown business district. An 800-car parking garage can be constructed on a piece of land that is just 120 feet wide by 270 feet long, and it can be tucked into the center of a downtown block and surrounded by existing and new buildings so that it is hardly visible from the street. By contrast, if we wanted to provide those same 800 spaces in a surface parking lot, the parking lot would have to be the size of four and a half football fields! And it’s almost impossible to assemble that volume of contiguous land in an existing downtown setting.”
There is a service parking lot already connected to the WesBanco property, and a parking garage across the street from the WesBanco property. Has WesBanco considered building a parking garage and thoroughfare on its existing surface lot if the bank has identified that additional parking is needed? This parking garage may even serve as an additional incentive for redevelopment of 401 Market St. Although the up-front costs of the parking garage are more expensive, estimated in 2013 by Giosa at $21,000 per parking space versus $3,000 per parking space in a surface lot, the parking garage can attract additional development by meeting parking needs for the redevelopment of 401 Market St., as well as providing additional parking for the Blennerhasset Hotel. Over time, the parking garage can pay for itself through monthly and day parking for employers in the downtown area.
 Gerard Giosa article can be accessed at http://buildabetterburb.org/financing-parking-garages-qa-with-parking-consultant-gerard-giosa/
The West Virginia House of Delegates and State Senate, during this week’s special session of the Legislature, passed House Bill 203 to increase the State Historic Tax Credit from 10 percent to 25 percent.
Gov. Jim Justice placed the bill on the Special Session agenda after consultation with legislative leadership and interested parties.
The Preservation Alliance of West Virginia, Abandoned Properties Coalition, US Green Building Council, W.Va. Chapter, W.Va. Community Development Hub, Wheeling Heritage, private developers, citizens, and municipalities joined together to create the Revitalize West Virginia Downtown Coalition.
That coalition developed a plan to increase the state historic tax credit to aid in economic development of the state and educate legislators on the importance of the historic rehabilitation tax credit.
Danielle LaPresta, executive director of the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia, said, “I am pleased that the Governor and legislature saw the potential of the historic tax credit to serve as a catalyst to revitalize West Virginia. This program will spark economic development throughout the state regardless of the size of the community.”
The governor is a strong ally of historic preservation in West Virginia, LaPresta said.
The 25 percent credit brings West Virginia to parity with neighboring states. Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia have a 25 percent state historic tax credit; Maryland and Kentucky have a 20 percent tax credit. This increase will encourage the rehabilitation of historic buildings and spur private investment, create jobs, and help rid the state of vacant and underutilized buildings. Studies have shown that the estimated return on the state’s investment is approximately 2:1. This means for every dollar of tax credit provided by the state, two dollars of additional state taxes and revenue will be created through investments.
Renee Kuhlman, director of Policy Outreach, Government Relations and Policy from the National Trust for Historic Preservation said, “With these improvements, state legislators are putting West Virginia’s heritage to work and encouraging investors to bring their dollars to the Mountaineer State. States that have improved their historic tax credits have doubled the use of the federal historic tax credit and have seen construction jobs increase because renovation is labor intensive.”
The Legislature passed the legislation with overwhelming support in both houses.
Mike Gioulis, PAWV Advocacy chairperson, speaking for the coalition, said: “The coalition would like to thank all of the legislators that voted in favor of the bill, including the sponsors, Speaker Tim Armstead, R, Kanawha, and Tim Miley, D, Harrison. We appreciate that Senate Majority Leader Ryan Ferns, R, Ohio, and Senator Glenn Jeffries, D, Putnam, spoke in favor of the bill. We also would like to thank Chairman Eric Nelson, Jr., R, Kanawha, for his leadership on this issue.”
The group also values the support and leadership of Justice as well as his staff. The West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office is developing standards and procedures to educate and promote the program to the public.
For more information relating to the historic tax credit program, contact Jennifer Brennan, State Historic Tax Credit Coordinator at 304-558-0240.
For additional information regarding this effort, contact the Preservation Alliance of WV Advocacy Chairman Mike Gioulis at 304-545-4881, or visit www.pawv.org and www.revitalizewvdowntowns.com.
In early 2016, the Abandoned Property Coalition, a network of community leaders, and local, regional, and national organizations developing community-based solutions to vacant, abandoned, and dilapidated properties across West Virginia, held a strategy session to determine what the Coalition should focus its energy on over the course of the next year. Four people, including representatives from the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia, signed on to research the possibility of pushing forward policy around increasing the rate of West Virginia’s historic rehabilitation tax credit from 10% to 25%.
One major issue the group quickly came to realize was that although West Virginia has 92 commercial and mixed-use historic districts ripe for revitalization –developers choose to invest in neighboring states instead of our downtowns due to West Virginia’s uncompetitive 10% historic rehabilitation tax credit. Neighboring states, including Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia, all have 25% historic rehabilitation tax credits.
By Lacie Pierson / The Herald-Dispatch
CHARLESTON – Members of the West Virginia Legislature picked up Wednesday where they left off on May 24 and sent a tax revenue measure to a conference committee with the goal of reaching a compromise before June 30.
House Bill 107, or the West Virginia Tax Reform Act of 2017, was referred to the committee in the first formal legislative action taken by lawmakers in regard to the revenue measure they estimate will close a budget gap for fiscal year 2018, which begins July 1.
Read the full story at www.herald-dispatch.com.
By Nicole Marrocco / WV Community Development Hub
Little excites me more than a community finding a modern use for a historic building.
Nerdy, I know.
But just check out this church turned indoor rock gym, gas station turned restaurant, and bank turned grocery store, and I guarantee you’ll be geeking out over the untapped potential of abandoned and underperforming historic buildings alongside me.
Historic tax credits make it possible to revitalize historic properties that have a financing gap between what banks will lend and the total cost of rehabilitation.
Developers restoring income-producing (i.e. commercial, industrial, agricultural, or rental-residential) buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places or certified by the National Parks Service can apply for personal or corporate net income tax credits from West Virginia worth 10 percent of rehabilitation expenses.
Unfortunately, West Virginia’s 10 percent rate just isn’t cutting it — especially considering all of our neighboring states have either a 20 or 25 percent historic tax credit rate. Developers are wary of rehabbing buildings here because the risk is so much higher compared to places just across the state border.
Over the last few months, the Revitalize West Virginia’s Downtowns Coalition (including Generation West Virginia) has been advocating to increase the rate to 25 percent to make our state’s historic districts more attractive to developers and spur private investment.
Read the full UpThink to find out why — as a young person living in West Virginia — I believe an increased historic tax credit rate is a game-changer.
By Joselyn King / The Intelligencer
WHEELING — The West Virginia House of Delegates passed its version of a revenue bill Friday on what was the sixth day of a special legislative session in Charleston called for setting the state’s 2018 budget.
Despite a long agenda of proposed amendments, House Bill 107 was approved with few changes from the measure passed Thursday by the House Finance Committee. It would maintain West Virginia’s consumer sales tax at 6 percent, but would eliminate sales tax exemptions on cellphone services. It also would make no changes to the state’s coal and gas severance tax rates, but would gradually eliminate all taxation of Social Security within the next three years.
Read the full story, including more about the historic tax credit, at theintelligencer.net.
By Ashton Marra / WV Public Broadcasting
Members of the House are standing their ground when it comes to tax reform. At least, that’s what House Speaker Tim Armstead said Friday after a vote in the chamber on its own version of a revenue bill.
The bill does not include any of the changes to the personal income tax Senate Republicans and Gov. Jim Justice have agreed to, but Armstead said that doesn’t mean his chamber isn’t still willing to work on a compromise.
Members of the House voted 74 to 17 in favor of the tax bill negotiated between House Democrats and Republicans.
It brings in an estimated $100 million in additional revenue to close a budget gap in the 2018 fiscal year, which isn’t enough according to members of the chamber, but is a start.
Read the full story, including more about the historic tax credit, at wvpublic.org.
Although the main order of business is to pass a budget, Governor Jim Justice has made it a priority to also include increasing the state’s historic tax credit to the agenda, and we’re really excited about it.
Increasing the state’s historic tax credit to 25 percent will help spark new development in West Virginia’s historic downtowns. As the statewide organization dedicated to attracting and retaining young people in the Mountain State, we know that quality of place is a driving factor for young people in choosing where they want to live and work. Young people want to be where the action is and an increase in historic tax credit will help West Virginia build walkable, vibrant communities that are especially attractive to the next generation.
Check out the special session update from Generation West Virginia.
After receiving widespread bipartisan support during the regular session, historic tax credit legislation ultimately failed on the final day of regular session.
But now we have another chance to increase the state’s historic tax credit, and we need your help to do it. If revitalizing your downtown is a priority to you, let your representatives know by clicking here.
News and Notes
Subscribe to our mailing list to receive e-news updates on historic preservation news and events in West Virginia.