Heritage credits create jobs

December 03, 2009

We applaud your Nov. 30 editorial, "Credits that work," about the need to extend the Maryland Heritage Structure Rehabilitation Tax Credit program before it expires next year. Gov. Martin O'Malley is committed to authorizing an improved version of the program in the 2010 legislative session.

This stimulus has been a proven smart growth tool throughout the state, from Cumberland to Frederick to Montgomery County to Baltimore City to Cambridge. Projects propelled by this program have been catalysts for the revitalization of the communities around them.

This program also helps put Marylanders to work. In new construction, labor and material costs split roughly half and half. But in rehabilitation projects like those advanced by the historic tax credit, 70 percent or more of costs go toward labor.

The program is also very green. The striking Miller's Court redevelopment in Charles Village kept 7,000 tons of solid waste out of local landfills through the renewal of that former warehouse into apartments and offices, rather than demolishing the structure and building anew. The renovation saved the energy equivalent of 128 billion BTUs - or 126 semi-tanker trucks of gasoline. We need to make the best use of existing buildings and infrastructure and support sustainable communities, rather than bulldozing rural areas.

The program will prove even more valuable in a challenging market for commercial real estate. We look forward to working with the General Assembly and other stakeholders on its continuation.Richard Eberhart Hall, Baltimore

The writer is Maryland's secretary of planning.

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