Missouri Senate looks to cap historic building tax credit

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A Missouri House committee will consider a bill passed by the Senate last week to significantly curtail the amount of money available to developers through the Missouri Historic Tax Credit.

A Senate bill passed last week would limit the tax credit, which is usually rewarded to developers who rehabilitate historic buildings, to $50 million per year. Last year, the state paid out $134 million through the credit.

Republican Senator Will Krause of Lee's Summit supported the bill to cap the tax credit, arguing that the money could be better spent on education or other causes.

"The question is, do we really want to spend $140 million to redo old buildings, or do we want to put it towards education, which we are currently underfunding by $500 or $600 million?" Krause said Thursday.

In downtown Kansas City, where developers have used the credit on projects like the renovation of the Courthouse Lofts, reactions to the possible capping of the credit were mixed. Some Kansas Citians agreed with Krause that the money could be better spent elsewhere. Others argued that the rejuvenation of downtown was a worthy cause that was greatly spurred by the credit.

Mark Sappington is on the board of the Kansas City Ballet and a supporter of keeping the historic tax credit at its current funding level. He said the $32 million project that turned the Union Station power house into the ballet's new home, the Todd Bolender Center, would not have been possible without the tax credits.

"We had about $4.5 million of Missouri tax credits and an equal number of federal tax credits," Sappington told 41 Action news.  "We could not have done the $32 million construction project without it."

Advocates for development downtown, like the Downtown Neighborhood association, also argue that the credits are still needed to help move along other stalled or delayed projects like the renovation of the old Crosby hotel, the Power and Light building or the old Federal Reserve building.

"Without that closing of the funding gap, these projects are just going to stall and these buildings will sit empty," said Lindsay Tatro, the president of the Downtown Neighborhood Association.

Three previous attempts to cap the historic tax credit have failed to pass the legislature. This year's effort now continues in the House, where it may spend the next several weeks in debate and undergoing markups before that body passes its own bill.

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