The Chicago City Council recently approved the landmark designation for the Old Chicago Main Post Office. Built in phases from 1921 to 1932, the 2.3-million-square-foot structure is located on the western bank of the south branch of the Chicago River in Chicago’s Near West Side. The building’s brawny nine-and twelve-story art deco design is the work of Chicago architectural firm Graham, Anderson, Probst & White, a successor to D.H. Burnham and Company. The Old Chicago Main Post Office was constructed with a 40-foot-wide rectangular hole running through the center of the building, intended to accommodate a provision of the 1909 Plan of Chicago for a Congress Street extension from the South Loop to Chicago’s West Side. While various plans were floated for the extension in the 1930s, the space wouldn’t come into full use until 1955, when the Congress (now Eisenhower) Expressway was completed, connecting the Loop to the western suburbs. The building’s main lobby sports lavish details like white marble and gold glass mosaics, but its original function was utilitarian in nature, with the majority of the spaces dedicated to feed conveyors, hoppers, mechanical tables, and chutes that supported a variety of mail sorting operations. The Old Chicago Main Post Office remained in operation until a modernized facility was completed in 1996, leaving the building vacant. While the Old Chicago Main Post Office was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2001, providing it with the opportunity to capitalize on Federal Historic Tax Credits, it is the local designation that provides a measure of protection from demolition and insensitive alteration, as a National Register listing is primarily used for planning purposes and is honorary. Local designation of commercial, industrial, and income-producing non-for-profit buildings also provides building owners with the opportunity to capitalize on Chicago’s Class L Property Tax Incentive, which reduces property levels for a 12-year period provided that half of the value of the landmark building is invested in an approved rehabilitation project. According to the City of Chicago, the property’s owner, 601W Companies, is implementing a $292 million rehabilitation of the building as retail spaces and offices led by Gensler. The interior and exterior spaces will be comprehensively updated. The work will also repair existing rights-of-way for the Eisenhower Expressway as well as the Amtrak railroad facility located underneath the building.
Posts tagged with "historic tax credits":
A developer who specializes in historic restoration is planning to breathe life into Ohio’s famous but vacant “Big Basket.” Ohio developer Steve Coon heads a development firm that purchased the 20-year-old building in Newark, Ohio, at the end of December and plans to renovate it for new uses. The seven-story, 180,000-square-foot building opened in 1997 as the headquarters of the Longaberger Co., which makes baskets and pottery. It was designed by NBBJ and Korda Nemeth Engineering to resemble the company’s biggest seller, the Longaberger Medium Market Basket. Known locally as the “Big Basket” and highly visible from State Route 16, the former Longaberger building has been vacant since the summer of 2016, when the company moved its headquarters to its manufacturing plant in Frazeyburg, Ohio. Founder Dave Longaberger, who had the vision for a basket-shaped building, died in 1999, and the company has had financial difficulties and layoffs in recent years due to decreased sales. It is now owned by Dallas-based JRJR Networks. Recognizing the building’s value as a local landmark, public officials have worked to get the basket building reoccupied and to get back taxes paid off. Coon, who heads Coon Restoration and Sealants, is working with Sandvick Architects of Cleveland to restore the building and find new occupants. He has not disclosed specific details of his project but indicated he plans to keep the basket-shaped exterior. “The Longaberger Basket Building is known all over the world, and I can’t tell you how excited I am to preserve and renovate this building and put it back into use,” he said in a statement. “I have a big vision in mind to bring it back to life and keep the Longaberger story alive.” According to Newark Development Partners, a business organization, a group of community members contributed to a fund to keep the utilities on after Longaberger moved out of the building so it wouldn’t deteriorate and a sale could take place. Its executive director, Fred Ernest, said the money raised was almost gone when the sale was completed. “We are very excited to help facilitate this transaction and make the Longaberger Basket Building a viable economic development asset again,” said Newark Mayor Steve Hall. According to Columbus Business First, the building and surrounding 21 acres sold for $1.2 million, a fraction of its appraised value. The buyer was Historic Newark Basket LLC. Based in Louisville, Ohio, the buyer has restored a variety of historic structures in Ohio, including the McKinley National Memorial in Canton and the Old Historic Jail in Newark. Last year he received the Preservation Hero award from Heritage Ohio, a statewide preservation advocacy organization. Peter Ketter, Director of Historic Preservation for Stanvick Architects, said, “It’s going to continue to look like a basket. The owner is excited about the iconic nature of the building and sees it as a positive.” This includes the handle on top and the basket weave skin, which is an EIFS veneer. He added that the development team plans to nominate the building for listing on the National Register of Historic Places so the renovation could qualify for preservation tax credits. The team also wants to preserve a large interior atrium and possibly much of the cherry wood used inside, he said. Ketter said the new owner is exploring a variety of redevelopment options, including multi-tenant office use, a hotel or a mixture of uses. “All options are on the table at this point,” he said. There is no firm timetable for construction but Ketter estimates it will take a couple of years to complete. “It is in good condition, so maybe it will move more quickly” than other restoration projects, he said. Sandvick specializes in unconventional restoration projects, and the Longaberger building is no exception, he added. “It’s one building you can define as one-of-a-kind.”
After raising the alarm on provisions in Congress's tax plan that would negatively affect architects, the AIA is "encouraged" by revisions that were announced Friday night. The amendments arose during the reconciliation of the Senate and House tax bills that began on December 4. Notably, the changes keep the Historic Tax Credit (HTC), an incentive that spurs revitalization of older buildings in both blue and red states. Originally, the Senate's plan kept the HTC but spread the current 20 percent credit for recognized historic structures over five years, a move that would have diluted the credit's impact. (The bill also would have nixed the ten percent credit for buildings erected before 1936.) The House's version would have eliminated the HTC entirely. The reconciled, final bill, officially known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, gives architects more flexibility to use the 20 percent credit. The revised bill also allows a 20 percent deduction for what are known as pass-though businesses. These include S-corps, sole proprietorships, and Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs) and are often (but not always) small businesses. Due in part to the AIA's lobbying, the bill also exempts architecture and engineering firms from restrictions on deductions that apply to other service-oriented businesses.
In a prepared statement on the changes, AIA 2018 President Carl Elefante thanked members for their support in opposing key provision of the bill, and explained the outcome of the AIA's advocacy: "The AIA lobbied hard and successfully to improve this bill, and to ensure that architects continue to be major job creators in the American economy. Gaining tax relief for architects who organize as pass through companies—which includes the majority of U.S. architecture firms—is a significant improvement over earlier drafts. So is preserving at least in part the Historic Tax Credit, which was totally abolished by the original House tax reform bill."
The AIA is gearing up to fight the House's and Senate's tax plan, both of which eviscerate historic tax credits and disadvantage architecture firms, especially smaller ones. In a statement released last night, the professional organization said it would lobby hard against provisions in both versions of the bill, which is officially known as Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The House's plan eliminates the Historic Tax Credit (HTC), an incentive that's key to revitalizing buildings along historic main streets and downtowns. The Senate's rules, meanwhile, would spread out the current 20 percent credit for recognized historic structures over five years, and eliminate the ten percent credit for buildings erected before 1936. The legislation goes into conference today. The HTC is an important revitalization tool for municipalities across the country. A 2015 report by the National Park Service and Rutgers University showed the HTC preserved more than 42,000 buildings nationwide and generated $131 billion in private investment since they were introduced in 1981. By offsetting the design and construction services needed to rehab older, often blighted buildings, the credits have created 2.4 million jobs in construction and administration. "By weakening the Historic Tax Credits, Congress and the Administration will hurt historic rehabilitation projects all across the country—something to which architects have been committed for decades," said Thomas Vonier, the AIA's 2017 president. "Since 1976, the HTCs have generated some $132 billion in private investment, involving nearly 43,000 projects. The Historic Tax Credit is fundamental to maintaining America's architectural heritage." "Our members across the country are already mobilized to make sure their Congressional delegations know these views. In the coming days, we will spare no effort to make sure members of the House-Senate conference committee know the views of the AIA's more than 90,000 members on the inequities in both pieces of legislation," he said. "So far, this legislation still falls well short of these goals. If passed, Congress would be making a terrible mistake." On the operations side, for all small firms (regardless of industry), the Senate bill permits some ("pass through" businesses) to take a 23 percent tax deduction. Bills from both sides of Congress, however, exclude certain professional categories from these benefits; under the proposed rules, only the tiniest architecture firms would receive tax relief.
A white elephant in Indiana's capital city may see new life after decades of decay—with a little help from modern art. When it opened in 1909, Indianapolis' old city hall building inspired the mayor, Charles A. Bookwalter, to remark: “I believe that in all the years to come no citizen, man, woman, or child, will pass this corner and read that motto without feeling responsibility for good citizenship in this city of ours.” By 1962 city and county government had outgrown the neoclassical building, designed by architects Rubush & Hunter, and it has served as temporary exhibition space ever since. Now the Louisville-based developers 21c Museum Hotels plans to redevelop Old City Hall along with an adjacent lot, pumping $55 million into a mixed-use development centered on a new museum of contemporary art. According to the project announcement, the property will feature “a boutique hotel with approximately 150 rooms, guest suites with private terraces on the rooftop, art-filled meeting and event spaces and a unique chef-driven food and beverage concept showcasing local and regional farmers and producers.” City Hall itself appears destined for an art museum that will feature rotating exhibitions and remain open to the public, free of charge. “Arts-related tenants” will occupy the second, third and fourth floors of Old City Hall. 21c has signed on frequent collaborator, New York City–based Deborah Berke Partners to design the project. Berke is also signed on to design a new building for Cummins in Indianapolis, proposing a glassy, bending form and extensively landscaped public spaces for the fuel systems manufacturer. A bit less than half of the project financing will be loans from the federal government and local officials, as well as historic tax credits, if the developers get their way. If that happens, city officials will be fulfilling a promise to redevelop the municipal building, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 and factors into Indianapolis' City 2020 masterplan. “When I became the director I felt a certain pull to do something,” said Adam Thies, Indy's director of metropolitan development. “Letting it sit vacant was akin to letting it slip away from the memory of civic consciousness,” Thies made the remarks in a video about the project for The Bicentennial Plan for Indianapolis. https://vimeo.com/98892394