City may offer tax incentive on historic buildings | The Press and Standard

by | April 20, 2018 5:00 pm

Last Updated: April 18, 2018 at 12:08 pm

The City of Walterboro is trying to encourage renovation of historic commercial buildings by providing a property tax incentive.
First reading on the ordinance was passed at the April 3 meeting.
The tax incentive is based on the state’s Bailey Bill. The ordinance would provide a special tax assessment for buildings considered historic (50 years or older) based on the fair market value of the property at the time of a pre-renovation preliminary assessment, reducing taxes by 50% for 20 years.
Of course, since it’s a government program, there are specific paperwork and conditions that must be met.
To be an eligible property, the building must be at least 50 years old, be listed on the National Register of Historic Place; and/or be designated as a historic property by the city; and/or be located in the Walterboro Historic Preservation Overlay District; and be principally for commercial use.
The property must undergo historic rehabilitation according to standards set by the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and Walterboro’s design guidelines for historic districts. Each renovation must have its proposed rehabilitation work reviewed, including repairs and alterations to the exterior, new construction on the property on which the building is located, and interior alterations for primary public spaces.
The actual costs of approved renovations relate to improvements on or within the historic building; improvements outside and directly attached to the building which are necessary to make the building fully usable (not including new construction of rentable/habitable floor space); 20% of the total rehabilitation costs for architectural and engineering services for the design of improvements; and costs necessary to maintain the historic character or integrity of the building.
The total minimum expenditures must be equal to or exceed 50% of the fair market value of the property (fair market value must be certified by a licensed real estate appraiser), the sale price of the property and the most recent Colleton County tax assessment.
The city’s Historic Preservation Commission will review and oversee the approval of properties in the program.
Property owners will have to apply for and receive a preliminary certification based submission of a completed application, a plan detailing the proposed renovations, payment of a fee (to be determined during the city’s annual budget process going on now), proof of current fair market value and a total anticipated cost of the renovations.
The Historic Preservation Commission will then confirm that the minimum expenditure and standards for historic properties are met, after which the preliminary application will go to city council for approval.
After approval, the property will be eligible for the tax assessment for an initial period of two years, which could be extended if the renovation is not complete and the minimum expenditures have been met.
During renovation, the property will be subject to inspection by the city’s Planning and Development Department to assure standards are being met.
Upon completion, the property will be granted final certification to be taken to the Colleton County assessor to secure the 20-year fixed assessment.
The new special assessment ordinance also requires that Colleton County Council approve the plan before it can begin.

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