What have the Federal Historic Tax Incentives done for California?

Left: Fox Oakland Theatre (Certified 2010); Center: 529 Normal Ave., Chico (Certified 2012); Right: 450 Sutter St., San Francisco (Certified 2011)

Over two billion dollars have been spent in California over the past 11 years on certified historic tax projects (20% Historic Preservation Tax Credits) across the state. The Certified Expenses from the 2009 Federal Fiscal Year through the 2020 Federal Fiscal Year have added up to $2,055,629,991 (total project expenditures are even higher when all other non-eligible costs are added).

Certified Expenses for Federal Fiscal Years 2003 to 2020

 The 175 certified historic preservation tax projects in these years have been located in 23 counties, with the top county double-digit totals beings: Los Angeles (49), San Diego (24), San Francisco (23) and Marin (21). Additional counties include: Alameda with 11 projects; Sacramento with 8 projects, Contra Costa with 6 projects, Napa with 5 projects, and Humboldt and Solano Counties with 3 projects each. San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Shasta, Stanislaus and Yolo Counties have 2 projects each; Butte, Merced, Santa Cruz, and Siskiyou Counties have 1 project each.

 Certified Projects per County for Federal Fiscal Years 2009 to 2020

The top California projects over $40,000,000 during the past 11 years:

2009 Ford Assembly Plant, Richmond $54,900,000
  Pacific Electric Building, Los Angeles $52,612,555
  Piers 1-1/2 and 3, San Francisco $47,320,695
  Fort Baker, Sausalito (20 buildings) $40,798,472
2010 Fox Oakland Theatre, Oakland $79,500,000
2011 Presidio Public Health Service Hospital, San Francisco $75,034,443
2013 Central YMCA, San Francisco $57,000,000
  Pier 15, San Francisco $180,170,000
2014 The Forum, Inglewood $78,723,091
  Mutual Savings Bank, San Francisco $52,764,809
2015 Lincoln Place, Venice $128,200,000
2018 Proper Hotel/Renoir Hotel, San Francisco $75,871,136
2019 Commercial Exchange Building, Los Angeles $59,776,802

Just as important are the smaller projects (in terms of certified expenses during the past 12 years) under $400,000:

2008 640 West 8th Street, Long Beach  $84,804
  Ah Louis Store, San Luis Obispo  $262,683
2010 CDW Historic Lawn Way Beach House, Capitola  $233,232
2012 529 Normal Avenue, Chico  $298,543
2014 Mom and Pops Saloon, San Juan Bautista  $126,000
2015 Thompson House, Richmond  $350,000
2019 308-310 Tunnel Avenue, Richmond  $200,000

The federal historic tax credits continue to stimulate their local communities and economies and enrich our lives in significant ways. They create jobs and are good for neighborhoods, the local economy, and the environment.

In California, the Mills Act can be linked with the 20% historic preservation investment tax credit provided by the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives Program and the Tax Reform Act of 1986. Federal affordable housing tax credits may also be utilized with these incentives to offset rehabilitation costs. Over a half billion dollars of private investment in California’s historic buildings is due in a large part to this program. Preservation tax incentives used on under-utilized or abandoned hotels, offices, stores, schools, warehouses, and factories give new uses that maintain their historic character and revitalize the property.

Annual Reports of all certified tax projects in California since 2020 are available at OHP's Certified California Tax Incentive Projects web page. For information on tax credit projects before then, contact the rchitectural Review unit.