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Buildings to get tax credits

July 28, 2006|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY - A school for the arts in Hagerstown and a historic house in Sharpsburg are among 46 projects approved for state preservation tax credits.

The Maryland Historical Trust on Wednesday announced $20 million in tax credits for buildings either on the National Register of Historic Places or that qualify to be on it.

Cho Benn Holback + Associates, a Baltimore architectural firm, received a $1.4 million tax credit to renovate a past Elks lodge on South Potomac Street in Hagerstown.

The building, also known as the former Henry's Theater, will become the Barbara Ingram School for the Arts.

Vincent Groh donated the building in 2003. It is to be named after his late wife.

At a Washington County Board of Education meeting last month, the project cost was estimated at $7.9 million, up from a previous estimate of $6.5 million.

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The school is projected to open in the fall of 2008.

The Maryland Historical Trust also awarded a $28,680 tax credit to Summer Beam Properties to restore a historic house on West Main Street in Sharpsburg.

Brien Poffenberger said he and his wife own Summer Beam Properties, a limited liability company.

Poffenberger, the president of the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce, said he and his wife will renovate the building and rent it.

Historic preservation applicants can receive tax credits for up to 20 percent of the total cost of rehabilitating a property, Maryland Historical Trust Director Rodney Little said.

Poffenberger said Summer Beam Properties bought a house and an addition, then sold the addition to Jefferson Security Bank, which is opening a branch there.

The LLC kept the original section of the house - 105 W. Main St. - which Poffenberger believes was built around 1820.

The state has separate residential and commercial tax-credit programs.

Residential projects may qualify for the commercial program if the owner does not live there, Little said.

The Maryland Historical Trust actually had $30 million in tax credits to give out this year, but was limited by geography.

Maryland law doesn't allow more than half of the tax credits to be given to city of Baltimore projects, Little said.

Of the 50 applications from Baltimore, the Maryland Historical Trust granted tax credits for 18, for a total of $15 million.

All of the $5 million worth of applications from points west of Baltimore were funded, Little said.

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