Picturing Successes like Film Row in Oklahoma City: Developer Defends Historical Preservation Tax Credits

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impending move of several Film Row businesses into the renovated Hart Building proves the value of state historical preservation tax credits in growing local companies, developer John "Chip" Fudge said.

The relocation to 720 W. Sheridan doesn't actually involve credits, Fudge said. But the site wouldn't have even been attractive to Claims Management Resources Inc., Credit Collections Inc. and Ferrell Co. if it hadn't been for earlier work driven by $400,000 in tax credits, he said.

"It wouldn't have made sense financially for me to invest in the area," he said. "I ended up putting in nearly $2.3 million in construction work, and about 20 percent qualified. Because of that $400,000 worth of tax credits, I was able to move on $3 million in real estate and follow up with construction, so you're looking at nearly $5 million that would not have gone into the area otherwise.

"And now we feel as though we've created a safe neighborhood for us to move into," he said of CMR, currently at 615 N. Classen Blvd.

Officials with the Oklahoma Historical Society recently have been answering questions posed by a legislative task force about the state's historical preservation tax credits. The group, chaired by state Rep. David Dank, R-Oklahoma City, is investigating whether the state's tax incentive system is constitutional as part of a larger effort to reform the tax code.

An opinion from the attorney general's office stated credits must have public purpose, be supported by adequate consideration and have adequate safeguards and controls. Bob Blackburn, executive director of the Oklahoma Historical Society, said this week that state projects that qualify for federal historical preservation credits also qualify for the state tax credit. But Dank said he is concerned about double qualification and a lack of a credit cap on historical projects.

As part of an effort to fill a $1. …