Developers of historic properties, who currently must be victorious in a lottery system for their projects to be designated for tax credits, might consider House File 2453 their lucky number.

 

It's safe to say that Justin Doyle, whose Market One LLC is set to launch a $14 million renovation as the inaugural project in the Des Moines Market District, is a fan.

 

Gov. Terry Branstad signed House File 2453 into law Tuesday after it received near unanimous support in the Iowa Legislature - it received two "no" votes in the House.

 

The bill revamps the state's 13-year-old historic preservation tax credit program, making nearly $9 million in unclaimed credits typically reserved for projects of $750,000 or less available to any project that qualifies.

 

But just as important to Doyle and other developers is that it also eliminates a lottery system for designating tax credit recipients in any given fiscal year.

 

"That is a huge benefit for the Market One project," Doyle said.

 

He submitted a proposal for tax credit approval in 2012. In the most recent funding cycle, his project was dead last in the queue. He had other financing in place and a contractor lined up to begin work at the 105-year-old former Advance Rumely building at 130 E. Third St.

 

A two-year delay meant that Doyle had to extend a $1.5 million bridge loan by another year, incurring additional financing costs and spending money that could have been used on the project, considered a key to fostering future development in the Market District, an area east of the Des Moines River that lies between Court Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway.

 

In place of the lottery, the new law substitutes a readiness test, meaning that projects that are ready to go will move to the front of the funding line.

 

Though the bill does not raise the annual $45 million limit on credits issued for historic projects, it does free up $8.6 million in unused credits that had been reserved for projects of $750,000 or less. Those funds will be available for distribution to all projects in fiscal years that begin July 1, 2014, and July 1, 2015.

 

According to a fiscal analysis by the Legislative Services Agency,  a total of $37.7 million in historic preservation tax credits will be redeemed this fiscal year and that number will grow to $44 million by fiscal 2018.

 

According to a release from the governor's office, the state has invested $177 million in historic preservation tax credits since 2001, resulting in the rehabilitation of 283 historic buildings, $800 million for rehabilitation activities and an additional $90 million in related new construction.

 

Meanwhile, Doyle will appear this afternoon before the city of Des Moines Zoning Board of Adjustment for approval of two additions to his Market One project.

 

He needs a height exception to build a penthouse and pegola on the roof of the building and a setback variance to construct an 18,340-square-foot solar array that will act as a canopy over a parking lot planned for a nearby property. As designed, the structure would snug up to all adjoining property lines. Click here to read more about Doyle's Market One project.