Historic Tax Credit Increase Gives Developers a Boost - WBAY

Historic Tax Credit Increase Gives Developers a Boost

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Governor Walker signed a bill into law today that doubles the historic tax credit.  It's an incentive already in place in neighboring states.

This legislation was written a year ago by a Green Bay Representative then championed by Green Bay city and business leaders. 

While that was happening, several developers struck deals dependent on the historic tax credit bill becoming law.  Which today, it finally did.  Now, a stalled Green Bay development project is finally moving ahead.

The enthusiastic applause of state and local leaders is echoed by the historic Hotel Northland's empty halls, vaulted ceilings, former guests and former employee's.

40 years ago, Victoria Parmentier worked the front desk.

"Every body has a Hotel Northland story, my father delivered Western Union telegrams when he was a child here, every body has a story," she says.

For the past year developer Mike Franz has wanted to revitalize the former downtown Green Bay hotel, but the cost far exceeds the buildings value.

"If we are spending 35 million dollars which is what we anticipate today the building will probably appraise for about 26 million," Mike Franz of Franz-Hobart Community Investors.

The bill signed today raises the historic tax credit in Wisconsin from 10 to 20 percent.

Which is the increase Franz was hoping and waiting for.

"It really closes the gap, with out it, it would have made it very difficult to get this deal done," says Franz.

Franz plans to close on the sale within weeks and begin work in January that will give the Hotel Northland new life.

"It is emotional," says Parmentier, "for that to be happening again. That people are going to be making their own stories in the future, it's perfect."

But the newly signed Historic Tax Credit bill is about more than just saving old buildings.

For Governor Walker, it's a jobs bill.

"As you put more people to work, they're paying individual income taxes, they're paying sales tax," says Governor Walker.

For Titletown Brewing's Brent Weycker, it's a beer bill.

"We want to bring more production to our facility here in downtown Green Bay," says Weycker.

He led the governor along with a group of state and local leaders on a tour of the Larsen Cannery, where half a century ago, workers were canning beans.

6 months from now Weycker plans to be canning Titletown beer.

"We're gonna be able to distribute through out the state of Wisconsin and potentially into some markets that we've not been in before," says Weycker.

But first ...

"We just gotta fix up a lot of the interior, you know it's a well built building," he adds.

From electrical and plumbing updates and more, fixing up an older building costs more than building a new one.  The newly signed bill raising the historic tax credit in Wisconsin from 10 to 20 percent is a big help for developers hoping to preserve and repurpose historical properties.

"Really exciting because it's part of the project and getting this thing off the ground," says Weycker.

This increased tax credit also gives a big boost to other projects in the state and in downtown Green Bay like the YMCA apartments and renovations.

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