Secretary Salazar Announces Steps to Promote Historic Preservation Tax Incentives in Economically Depressed Areas

National Park Service review of highly successful program underscores additional opportunities to preserve nation's heritage, create jobs

Last edited 09/05/2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced today the results of a National Park Service review to expand the use of the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives Program, promoting the rehabilitation of historic buildings, especially in urban and economically depressed areas, as a way both to preserve the past and to create jobs and promote economic revitalization in the present.

The eight actions recommended by the National Park Service were identified through an internal review of the program requested by Secretary Salazar during a January 25 forum he and Senator Carl Levin hosted with economic development and historic preservation communities and local government officials in Detroit, Michigan. The full review to the Secretary is available here.

“To date, the historic tax incentive program has been a great success, and these recommendations will help make the program an even more powerful force to revitalize our urban areas, create new jobs and build civic pride among citizens as they celebrate their heritage,” Salazar said. “Working with local governments, developers and other stakeholders, we will ensure that this program continues to be as effective as possible in helping preserve our nation's history and fuel our economy.”

“The tax credit program offers the opportunity to preserve our past by putting historic buildings back into productive use,” said U.S. Senator Carol Levin (D-MI). “The improvements outlined in this review appropriately put an increased emphasis on economic development and promote the program's use in economically depressed areas. Given the response at our forum in Detroit earlier this year, it is clear this program has made a difference to communities across the country, and I am confident it can be improved to help even more.”

The Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives Program, administered in partnership with the Internal Revenue Service and state historic preservation offices, provides a 20-percent tax credit to projects that rehabilitate income-producing historic buildings while maintaining their historic character.

“The Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives program is the largest community reinvestment program to promote historic rehabilitation in the country, preserving America's past while stimulating private investment, creating jobs and revitalizing communities,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “By promoting its benefits and strengthening our partnerships with local communities, this program can be an effective mechanism in the revitalization of American communities.”

Since 1976, the program has certified more than 38,700 projects that have rehabilitated underutilized or vacant historic buildings, revitalizing neighborhoods and communities across the nation. Examples include the renovation of abandoned or underutilized schools, warehouses, factories, churches, retail stores, apartments, hotels, houses, and agricultural buildings for business or income-producing uses.

All told, these projects have created more than 2.4 million jobs.

“We are delighted with the Secretary's leadership to make sure that this important program continues its vital contributions to the nation,” said Wayne Donaldson, Chairman of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. “Private investors using the tax incentives have brought cherished local landmarks back to life across the country, creating jobs, spurring economic development, generating tax revenues, providing housing, and stimulating reinvestment in our cities and towns.”

Elizabeth Hughes, President of the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers said, “The National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers applauds the Secretary's interest in expanding and creating more efficiency in the Federal Historic Tax Credit Program. As a key partner in the administration of the program, the State Historic Preservation Offices look forward to working with the National Park Service in implementing the proposed recommendations. Historic tax credits are a critical tool for stimulating private investment in redevelopment projects nationwide. State Historic Preservation Offices witness first-hand how these projects revitalize existing communities, grow the local economy, and transform struggling neighborhoods into vibrant centers for both work and play.”

The review makes eight recommendations to maximize opportunities to use historic preservation to promote economic development and community revitalization, especially in urban and economically depressed areas, among them:

  • Increase promotion and training to build awareness of the program for developers, the preservation community, state and local partners, and the general public;

  • Partner with the White House Council on Strong Cities, Strong Communities and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to promote the historic tax incentives program in economically depressed areas, using Detroit for the pilot partnership effort; if effective, this partnership model could be repeated elsewhere;

  • Work with the Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service to discuss issues related to tax policies that may restrict the appropriate use of the historic preservation tax incentives; and

  • In consultation with preservation partners and other stakeholders, reexamine and revise, as appropriate, guidance on applying program standards concerning certain interior treatments and to the review of large multiple-building complexes.

For additional information about the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives Program, visit


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