By Danielle, Executive Director
The Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit is a valuable tool for large-scale historic preservation projects. Preservationists all over the country recognize the need for this tax incentive because without it, many of the larger projects could not come to fruition. It just wouldn’t be economically feasible. The federal Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit is under fire currently as Congress undertakes tax reform, and we’ve been advocating all year for the importance of renewing this tax credit. Rather than discussing politics though, we want to recognize a grand project in Elkins that brought several organizations together in a fantastic partnership to save First Ward School and bring it back to life by adapting it into senior housing.
In 2009, Preservation Alliance of West Virginia added the First Ward School to its WV Endangered Properties List because of its deterioration. That same year, Citizens for Historical Opportunity, Preservation, and Education, or C-HOPE, purchased the historical building for $1 from the Randolph County Board of Education. C-HOPE’s ultimate goal was to re-use the prominent structure for contemporary needs. After listing it to the National Register of Historic Places and fixing the roof, C-HOPE sold the school to AU Associates and Highland Community Builders. Under this partnership, the two transformed the building into sixteen affordable senior housing apartments for those fifty-five and older. AU Associates is a development firm based in Lexington, Kentucky, and it develops properties based on the principals of adaptive use, and has focused on opportunities for urban infill, as well as the revitalization of existing structures. Highland Community Builders is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the quality of life of residents of north-central West Virginia by developing quality housing that is affordable, and by collaborating with other agencies to provide opportunities for self-sufficiency, job training and asset building. It is affiliated with the Randolph County Housing Authority, a non-traditional housing authority whose mission is to “promote strong communities and a healthy quality of life.” Highland Community Builders worked with C-Hope to attract AU Associates to the project, and facilitated community meetings about the project as the feasibility work was being carried out.
The Total Project Cost was $3,737,000 with Sources of Funds including, Low Income Housing Tax credits of $3.3 million resulting in $2.8 million in equity; Federal Historic Tax Credits of $675,294 resulting in $594,200 in equity; State Historic Tax Credits of $337,647 resulting in $209,400 in equity; and a Development Grant from the WV State Historic Preservation Office of $59,700. The combination of the Low Income, Federal and State Historic Credits is what made this possible; it could not have been done without all three!
The recipients for this year’s Best Use of Historic Preservation Tax Credits Awards: AU Associates, C-HOPE, Highland Community Builders, and the Randolph County Board of Education.
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