PA’s historic preservation tax credit still won’t save Divine Lorraine

Last week I whipped out the calculator and explained why Pennsylvania’s new tax credit for historic rehabilitations will work better for small buildings, not large ones, and gently poked at the Inquirer for wrongly suggesting that this credit could be the tipping point for our big, historic white elephants like the Divine Lorraine. Well, in an editorial today the Inquirer got it wrong again.

The editorial states: “Coupled with an existing federal tax credit, the state’s new incentive could help spur large-scale redevelopment projects across Pennsylvania and change the landscape in neglected corridors…Philadelphia in particular could benefit from the new tax credits, with such vacant behemoths as the Divine Lorraine Hotel.”

As it stands now this tax credit is not big enough to buy doorknobs for the Divine Lorraine, much less change entire corridors.

That the tax credit passed at all is a victory for preservationists, and maybe someday if the caps are higher it’ll be a truly powerful incentive that stimulates restoration of large-scale historic commercial properties. For now, Inky, stop pointing to the Divine Lorraine. Its restoration is far too big an endeavor for these credits to make much of a dent.

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