The Senate Ways and Means Committee is taking testimony on Sub. HB 233, which was introduced by Rep., Kurt Schuring and which is designed to assist in redeveloping strategic areas within Ohio’s downtowns. The bill uses as its core a historic preservation project that qualifies under the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit. By way of background, the Historic Preservation Tax Credit went into effect in 2007 and has been widely successful throughout our state in restoring historic buildings. Many of those restoration projects have been in downtowns. Sub. H.B. 233 is intended to compliment those projects by offering new economic development tools that will have a synergistic effect on a designated area within a downtown and will provide a critical mass of activity that can support a place where people can live, work, and play.

The legislation allows a municipality to establish a Downtown Redevelopment District in ten-acre increments. The district must have a historic preservation project in it in order for the district to be formed. Up to 70% of the additional property taxes from the appreciated value of the historic preservation project can be diverted to pay for the following:

•for promotion of activity within the Downtown Redevelopment District
•revolving loans to other businesses in the district, infrastructure improvements, and 
debt service on construction loans 
These dollars will be used to support other economic activity in the district and will serve as a building block to the revitalization of the downtown as a whole. 

The legislation also allows for the establishment of an Innovation District to be established with in the Downtown Redevelopment District. The Innovation District will use a 100 gigabyte broadband connection to facilitate IT research and development in the form of business incubators and accelerators. These types of districts have been on the rise in recent years, attracting leading-edge businesses and the talented workers that go with it. The districts will foster a paradoxical alliance of combining old buildings with new high-tech job opportunities that create a sense of place that is very attractive to young people.

The bill passed unanimously in the House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee and also on the House Floor.