Testimony of the Real Estate Board of New York Before the Sub Committee on Landmarks, Public Siting, and Maritime Use in Support of an Amendment to the Administrative Code to Authorize the Landmarks Preservation Commission to Administer a Historic Preservation Grant Program, Int. 0368-2018

The Real Estate Board of New York, Inc. (REBNY) is a broadly based trade association of over 17,000 owners, developers, brokers, managers and real estate professionals active throughout New York. Thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony in favor of establishing with the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) a historic preservation grant program.

Councilmember Salamanca has introduced a common-sense program that will benefit a diverse group of owners – from single-family home owners to private entities of apartment buildings, from religious organizations to not-for-profit cultural institutions. While we appreciate the public benefit provided by landmark designation, the private burden can be quite high. That’s why REBNY supported the renewal of the New York State Historic Tax Credits in this last budget cycle when they were up for renewal as residential and commercial owners alike can benefit.

However, existing loan and grant programs have a number of limitations, including ownership structure, income eligibility, overall permitted expenditures and grant amount. The LPC’s own existing Historic Preservation Grant Program only offers nominal sums with a great number of restrictions because of its singular Federal funding source. The Federal Historic Tax Credit program only applies to commercial properties – leaving homeowners and not-for-profits alike out of luck. Allowing the LPC to use funds from the city and state should allow for a more far-reaching program that could benefit all owners of landmark properties, including religious organizations that have traditionally been left out of tax, loan or grant programs.

We urge the City Council to pass this initiative and urge both the Mayoral Administration and City Council leadership to provide this program with a sufficient funding stream to ensure its viability and success in helping to preserve New York City’s architectural legacy.