Ciresi introduces downtown revitalization bill to bring older buildings up to code

HARRISBURG, July 13 – State Rep. Joe Ciresi, D-Montgomery, introduced legislation this week that would create a two-year pilot program administered by the Department of Community and Economic Development to help renovate and redevelop historic and older buildings across the commonwealth.

“Pennsylvania is rich in history,” Ciresi said. “Just walk down a neighborhood street, you can find historic homes and older buildings recalling our commonwealth’s storied past. Unfortunately, as too many of them require expensive renovations to bring them up to code, many people have been forced to abandon them and leave our downtowns filled with vacant buildings.”

House Bill 1573 would create a two-year pilot program administered by DCED to help renovate and redevelop historic and older buildings across Pennsylvania. The program, the “Historic and Older Building Redevelopment Assistance Grant Program,” would address the greater challenges and higher costs involved in bringing older buildings up to code.

Grant funds could be used to bring mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection systems up to code through the installation of modern equipment such as sprinklers, efficient HVAC systems, elevators, and extra stairs, as well as to make entryways and other building features more accessible for people with disabilities. These improvements would be intended for and evaluated based on their ability to facilitate income-generating use of the property, their contribution to economic and community revitalization, and historic preservation and commercial or recreational opportunities for the public.

“Derelict buildings are bad for public safety and bad for our economy,” said Ciresi. “If we renovate historic and older buildings, we can revitalize our downtowns and spur our economy by creating jobs, reducing blight, helping alleviate the affordable housing crisis by increasing the number of places to live, and restoring the architectural beautify our neighborhoods.”

Earlier this term, Ciresi introduced legislation, H.B. 724, to create the Historic Homeownership Preservation Incentive Tax Credit in Pennsylvania. The proposed legislation would allow homeowners with a plan to rehabilitate their historic home located in a qualified census tract to receive tax credits toward the rehabilitation project.