Historic Tax Credit (HTC)

On November 2, 2017, congressional lawmakers introduced a tax reform bill that eliminates the Historic Tax Credit (HTC),


Places that have survived threats of demolition or excessive alteration.


Help Save the Historic Tax Credit!

Last week, congressional legislators introduced a tax reform bill that eliminates the federal Historic Tax Credit (HTC), our nation’s primary financial incentive for historic preservation. Since first introduced in 1981, the HTC has been critical in helping save thousands of historic places and leveraging billions in private investment.

The HTC provides a twenty-percent tax credit on the total amount invested in a historic rehabilitation project, which often makes or breaks a project’s financial feasibility. The HTC program has more than paid for itself, returning more to the Treasury than it costs and serving as a catalyst for revitalization efforts.

Repeal of the HTC is expected to be included in the Senate version of the tax bill, which will likely be released this week or next. 

Between 2002 and 2016, one hundred sixty-nine HTC projects were completed in California, creating nearly 40,000 jobs and generating $653,324,300 in local, state and federal taxes.

About This Issue

Why the HTC Matters

The HTC is one of our strongest tools and financial incentives. If not for the HTC, thousands of historic buildings across the U.S. would not have been rehabilitated, adaptively reused or even standing today. The HTC is often applied to projects converting historic buildings into both affordable and market rate housing, a critical need at the moment for Los Angeles.

Current local examples of HTC projects in the works include the former Hamburgers/May Company Department Store and Banco Popular de Puerto Rico, both in downtown L.A., and Sears in Boyle Heights. Another recently-completed HTC project and 2013 Conservancy Preservation Award recipient is the Boyle Hotel and Cummings Block in Boyle Heights.

HTC, By the Numbers:

  • More than 42,000 historic buildings rehabilitated since 1981.
  • 2.4 million jobs created through HTC projects, with historic rehabilitation projects being more labor intensive (60/40 percent labor/materials) than new construction (40/60 percent materials/labor).
  • $131 billion in private investment leveraged though the HTC.
  • An average of $1.20 return to the Treasury for every HTC dollar invested (to date providing $29.8 billion in direct federal tax revenue vs. $25.2 billion cost of HTC program).

Our Position

HTC Case studies from Los Angeles

The HTC is one of our strongest tools and financial incentives. Without the HTC, many beloved Los Angeles landmarks wouldn’t be preserved today, including the following case studies:

Boyle Hotel and Cummings Block (1889)
101 N. Boyle Avenue, Boyle Heights
Completed in 1899, this former residential hotel and business block is the last remaining commercial building from the early development of Boyle Heights. In 2006, the East Los Angeles Community Corporation, or ELACC, bought the property to convert into affordable housing. It was in grave condition after decades of neglect, bad renovations, and earthquake damage. The Cummings Block now has 31 units of affordable housing in the Boyle Hotel (additional 20 units in new construction) with ground-floor commercial space.
Hamburgers/May Company Department Store (1906, 1908, 1923, 1929)
801 S. Broadway, Downtown Los Angeles
This enormous Beaux Arts structure covers nearly half the block and includes 1.1 million-square-feet, and once boasted it was the largest department store on the Pacific Coast. In the late 1980s the May Company vacated this location and the building became known as the Broadway Trade Center, housing garment manufacturing on the upper floors and the first floor as an indoor swap meet. In 2015 New York-based Waterbridge Capital paid $130 million for the structure and formed a subsidiary, Broadbridge, to handle the project that is currently under construction. The building will be used for a variety of uses, including a market and hotel. Anticipated to open in 2019, this is the largest historic rehabilitation project in California’s history, estimated at $215M with a $43M HTC.
354 S. Spring Street, Downtown Los Angeles
Developer Allen Gross is currently converting the Herman H. Hellman building (also known as the Banco Popular Building) at Fourth and Spring streets into housing, creating 212 apartments with 20 percent set aside for affordable units. Rehabilitation is currently underway, estimated at $30M with a HTC of $6M.

How You Can Help

How you can help save the HTC

Please write to your representatives in the House and Senate urging them to support the federal Historic Tax Credit. The National Trust for Historic Preservation has an easy template and submission form you can use – it only takes a minute to make your voice heard!

Without the HTC, historic buildings will be increasingly at risk. Time is of the essence as we expect the tax reform bill to move rapidly and hope to reinsert the HTC into an amended version.

We need your help to save the HTC. Please email your representatives and tell your friends across the country to do the same. Thank you!