IDA members are hard at work behind the scenes, advocating for the Revitalizing Downtowns Act, a bill in the U.S. Senate to provide tax credits for conversion of under-utilized office space in our city centers. This marks IDA’s first active lobby effort in Congress and a new beginning of a formal federal advocacy program in the U.S. coupled with our efforts in Canada, IDA once again has expanded our influence in various communities.
The Revitalizing Downtowns Act, modeled after the Historic Tax Credit program, would provide a credit equal to 20 percent of the qualified expenses. This credit will help to convert obsolete and excess office spaces into residential, institutional, hotel or mixed-use properties while simultaneously adding a new financing tool that will help city centers adapt to the evolving business and real estate landscape as office work continues to unfold.
To be clear, I do believe we’ll see a rebound in the office market, in addition to the hybrid work model being here to stay. The current reduced demand for office spaces coupled with historic increases in the available sublease markets provides us with an opportunity to continue shaping our downtowns and city centers for the future.
Advocating for public policy to support more complete and resilient communities should be a top goal for all organizations. We have witnessed how commercial neighborhoods with greater residential populations withstood the economic impacts of the pandemic better than those with fewer residences. Continuing to adapt more single-use, office-centric districts toward greater mixed-use can be beneficial in the long run. As proven in the years prior to COVID-19, demand for an urban residential environment remains strong. Perhaps the pandemic recovery plan provides just the opportunity needed to accelerate this change and address the challenge of affordability at the same time.
The Revitalizing Downtowns Act targets buildings that are 25 years and older and will require residential projects to provide at least 20 percent affordable units or more based on local requirements to qualify. To learn more about this specific effort, the newly emerging U.S. Government Affairs program, as well as the ongoing Canadian Federal Advocacy efforts, please visit downtown.org. Together we can develop and advance new policies like the Revitalizing Downtowns Act and further leadership positions toward more resilient, inclusive and successful cities.