By JOHN McBRYDE
Preservationists, historians and members from the community will come together Monday at the Franklin Theatre for a panel discussion on Tennessee’s historic tax credits.
The Heritage Foundation of Williamson County, which is hosting the event, hopes the discussion will help elevate the efforts to provide Tennessee with historic tax credits that can have wide-ranging benefits for preservation and restoration of historic sites across the state.
The event is titled “American’s Heart is in Our Small Towns” and will feature experts and preservation leaders on the panel. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and refreshments will be available, and the program begins at 6 p.m.
“We hope our local government officials who will be able to vote on the bill will attend and be educated about why it’s important,” Meg Hershey, director of Marketing and Membership for the Heritage Foundation, said. “We also hope the community will be educated on why it’s important and that they will contact their local legislators and help to get this passed this year.”
Hershey said state Sen. Bo Watson, R-District 11 (part of Hamilton County), and Rep. Kevin Vaughan, R-District 95 (part of Shelby County), are cosponsors of a bill they’re filing in the legislative session that just began that would allow for historic-related tax credits. A bill that was brought before the 2018 General Assembly failed.
Tennessee is one of only 15 states in the U.S. that does not offer state historic tax credits to help revitalize main street communities, create jobs and put vacant historic buildings back on the tax rolls, according to a release from the Heritage Foundation.
Historic tax credits encourage the rehabilitation of smaller historic buildings in rural areas as well as those in larger towns and cities. Studies find that one-third of participating states’ investments in historic tax credits is paid back during the construction phase and the remainder is paid back between four to nine years after the restored and rehabilitated building is put in service.
“Actually all the states that border Tennessee have the credit,” Hershey said. “So the only two states in the Southeast that don’t are Tennessee and Florida.”
Monday’s program will cover related topics applicable to state and local elected officials, government agencies, architects, preservationists, property owners, main street districts and others.
Panelists for the program are Dr. Blake Wintory, director of preservation for the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County; Jill Burgin, the new executive director of the Main Street Program for the Heritage Foundation and Downtown Franklin Association; Patrick McIntyre, State Historic Preservation officer and the executive director of the Tennessee Historical Commission; Cyril Stewart, local architect and preservationist representing AIA Tennessee; and Renee Kuhlman, director of Policy Outreach, Government Relations & Policy, National Trust for Historic Preservation. Bari Beasley, CEO of the Heritage Foundation, will moderate the discussion.
“Not only does our organization save the places that matter in our community, but we also advocate for more accessible means to historic preservation,” Beasley said in the news release. “It takes a community of property owners, preservationists and others to restore and revitalize historic assets within our community and the entire state. We hope this panel discussion will educate our community about this important resource and resonate with our state-elected officials to strongly consider passing this credit for Tennessee.”
Visit the Heritage Foundation’s Facebook page for more information.