State tax credit proposed for repair of historic buildings damaged during natural disasters

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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — There’s been many avenues for families to recover from storms like hurricane Florence, yet the recovery is still slow. Now the state is looking to try and ease repair costs for some historic home owners.

A newly proposed tax credit could provide relief for historic home owners hit by Florence and even Matthew. Although some support the incentive, other storm damaged areas may be too far gone.

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The pace of recovery in the Cape Fear from hurricane Florence can be summed up with two words.

“It’s been slow and steady,” said Beth Rutledge with the Historic Wilmington Foundation.

Millions of FEMA dollars have come in, countless insurance claims have been made, and now state lawmakers want to offer historic home tax credits to aid recovery.



“As much as we can do to help get these buildings back up and running is great,” said Rutledge who serves as the executive director for the foundation that host a historic home tour each spring.

The state is looking to increase historic home or building restoration tax credits adding in a 5% credit for repaired homes impacted by a disaster. Of course that applicant must meet a series of requirements and qualifications and the credit cannot exceed $25 million in aid.

Rutledge says any thing new can help, but recovery in Wilmington also has another hurdle.

“The issue mostly is having people do the work,” Rutledge says.

The bill is supported by lawmakers across New Hanover and Columbus counties including ranking members Deb Butler and Brenden Jones. Rep. Butler provided a statement to WWAY regarding HB 399 saying:

“I am very pleased to support this Bill that gives an additional tool to help homeowners recover from the wrath of Hurricane Florence. Recovery is never fast enough for those affected, but this will certainly help in that regard.”

Deputy Majority Leader Brenden Jones provided this statement to us saying:

“Yes, we are optimistic that H399 will help not just Fair Bluff but also other areas that were devastated by the hurricane. By modifying the base rates, the 5% development tier, as well as creating a new bonus for disaster relief, we feel this bill will incentivize the rehabilitation of buildings in the hardest hit areas.”

The hardest hit places, like Fair Bluff within Jones’s district, is one of those however that may need more than a tax credit.

“With two floods in less than two years, it’s a hard thing to invest that money in it because you never know when it’s going to happen again,” says Mayor Billy Hammond saying many building owners simply do not have the faith to restore Main Street.

Historic parts of Fair Bluff are worlds away from the recovery in historic Wilmington. Hammond supports the states effort, but for him it’s still federal dollars that he hopes can bring the town back.

“Bare with us and we’re working as hard as they are,” said Hammond.