Reuse plans for the Lafayette Hotel continue to inch along while the historic preservation tax credit mess in Albany slowly straightens itself out. State and federal historic preservation tax credits are crucial for the $35 million redevelopment project to proceed.
First up, Governor Paterson is expected to sign amendments to the New York State tax credit program passed by the Assembly and Legislature into law sometime before September 3. The changes widen the eligibility pool for the tax credits, providing more incentive to invest funds in rehabilitation projects across the state. The amendments allow banks and insurance companies to claim the tax credit, giving greater access to those wanting to restore and rehabilitate historic commercial structures.
Rocco Termini says these changes are necessary to rehabilitate the Lafayette Hotel into commercial, hotel and residential space. But the Governor's signature to the amendments is just the first step. The tax credit 'carve out' is also required.
The preservation tax credits are one of 30 tax credit programs that are being deferred as part of the recent passing of the state budget, pushing payback on credits earned in 2010 - 2013 out to the 2014 - 2016 timeframe. The Governor proposed a deferral of 50 percent of tax credit value; the Assembly countered with and passed a proposal to defer 100 percent of tax credit value for credits over $2 million in value.
A push was made to remove the preservation tax credit program from the deferral list as the state budget was being finalized but failed.
Senator David Valesky introduced a Chapter Amendment in the Senate to carve the program out. That will be under consideration next month when the Senate plans to reconvene to address unfinished business. The Assembly is reportedly prepared to do the same.
While the tax credit program gets tweaked, Rocco is refining his Lafayette development team. Hamister Hospitality Group is no longer involved with the project. Rocco says he has a new operator for both the 34-room boutique hotel planned for the second floor and the first floor banquet facilities. He wouldn't say who will take the place of Hamister but did say a lease should be signed soon.
According to Rocco, Hamister remains on board for the planned redevelopment of the nearby AM&A's Department Store. That project, says Rocco, will not start until sometime next year. Hamister will operate the building's 117 hotel rooms. Downtown sources say Hamister remains interested in operating a boutique hotel downtown and has been actively looking for a suitable development site.
Carmina Wood Morris is the project architect for both the Lafayette Hotel and AM&A's redevelopment projects.