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Preserving historic downtown could become more costly

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- The old world charm of downtown brings people from across the country to the Port City.

With $1.6 billion in investments on the line, the expiration of the historic preservation tax credit could slow that down.

"A great sense of place, so we in Wilmington get this wonderful knowledge of watching our city evolve slowly while seeing where we've come from with all those historic buildings," said George Edwards with the Historic Wilmington Foundation. "They help give us a sense of connectedness to our past, which i think is the key to our future."

Could it all be at risk? Some in town think so.

"The tax credits oftentimes make that critical difference," Edwards said.

As a part of tax reform enacted by the state legislature a 20-percent tax credit to home owners, who are restoring these old historic homes will expire at the end of the year.

"The state of North Carolina has seen $1.6 billion of investment, private investment, in tax credit projects," Edwards said, adding that the after tax value of restored homes could bring that number to more than $33 billion.

"It has preserved a lot of the historic fabric, as well as a lot of the historic buildings in our downtown area," Mayor Bill Saffo said, adding the state needs to keep the credit, "(It's) critically important to the vitality and support of the historic structures of our community."

Saying the tourists these homes bring are reason enough, but not the only reason. Saying these homes are just a part of the Wilmington the world has come to love.

"Without them there's a tremendous likelihood that we'll lose a lot of historic structures going forward," Saffo said, calling losing the credit a price we just can't afford to pay.

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