Tax Credits Awarded to Syracuse Apartment Renovation Projects

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An apartment project in downtown Syracuse is going to receive significant tax breaks from the city.

The Syracuse Industrial Development Agency unanimously voted (five to zero) on Tuesday to improve the apartment sales tax exaction and a mortgage recording tax exemption. The exemption for construction equipment and materials is worth approximately $189,636 and an additional $19,636 for the South Salina St. Whitney Lofts project.

According to Jason Kaplan, a spokesperson for U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, the National Park Service approved of these tax credits because of the historical significance of the buildings. The new apartment complex on S. Salina St. has been a structure since the 1930s, and New York’s Historic Preservation Office had stated that the building’s main historical significance was during the 1960s.

The park service’s decision was important because the windows on the front of the five-story structure were exposed during the ’30s, but a few decades later, the windows (on the top three floors) were covered up with cement. When windows are properly taken care of, they can remain high quality windows for another 20 years (or more), depending on the material.

However, despite the Preservation Office’s belief that the building’s era of significance was the 1960s, in order to uncover the windows (transforming the upper floor into apartments and receiving the tax credits), they would have to agree that the actual period of significance was the 1930s. In the end, they did come to this agreement.

The apartment builders are the ones who have to claim both the state and federal tax credits — up to 20% of the eligible rehabilitation expenditures.

Sen. Schumer urged the National Park Service back in September to approve the development project, specifically the group’s plans to turn the upper floors of each building into apartments and uncovering all the windows.

“Not only is the project unfeasible without the windows, but the original facade undoubtedly maintains the building’s historic character and represents a time when downtown was the commercial core of the city, much like today,” Schumer said.

The cost of the renovated Witney Lofts apartment project is expected to total $4.3 million.

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