Ciresi bill encouraging historical renovation across PA passes state House

HARRISBURG, April 15 – A bill by state Rep. Joe Ciresi to create a pilot program to help fund the renovation of historic buildings across Pennsylvania passed the House today.

Under H.B. 1573, a two-year program would be administered by the Department of Community and Economic Development to help communities facing the challenges of updating and repurposing historic buildings, an expensive but worthwhile task in the commonwealth, said Ciresi, D-Montgomery.

“Pennsylvania is home to some of the country’s most historical and beautiful communities, but with them come the high costs of renovation of older buildings,” he said. “Many of these buildings lack accessibility and weren’t built to meet modern building codes. With this grant program we will support reinvestment in our downtowns, assist with community revitalization, preserve historic properties and neighborhood character, and create jobs.”

Improvements would be 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.

Specifically, the program would help 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. Additionally, grants could be used to make improvements to entryways and other building features to make buildings more accessible for people with disabilities.

Additionally, Ciresi said, historical rehabilitation creates thousands of construction jobs every year. In fact, historic preservation creates more jobs dollar for the dollar than new construction, he stated in the bill’s co-sponsorship memo.

The bill now heads to the state Senate for consideration.

Earlier this term, Ciresi introduced legislation, H.B. 724, to create the Historic Homeownership Preservation Incentive Tax Credit in Pennsylvania. That bipartisan 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.