Press Release

Schumer, Gillibrand, Higgins Urge Secretary of Interior to Approve HH Richardson Complex Preservation Certification; Say Approval Will Make Project Eligible for $21m in Historic Tax Credits

Apr 24, 2014

Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten E. Gillibrand, and Congressman Brian Higgins urged the Secretary of the federal Department of Interior to approve the Richardson Center Corporation’s application for Historic Preservation Certification. The corporation spent over $10M on Phase I and II stabilization projects for the 140-year old HH Richardson Complex and is now ready to move forward with a project to bring a hotel, event and conference space, and a Buffalo Architecture Center to the former state hospital and historic landmark. The project will create 500 construction jobs and 90 permanent jobs, but will need both state and federal historic tax credits to move forward. The project is eligible for up to $16M in federal historic tax credits, and an additional $5M in state historic tax credits, but in order for the Richardson Center Corporation to access those credits, the Secretary of the Interior must first approve the Historic Preservation Certification for the project. Schumer, Gillibrand and Higgins have written to the Department of Interior, and urged them to quickly approve the application so that the project can move forward.

“The revitalization of the Richardson Olmsted Complex is set to breathe new life into downtown Buffalo and create good-paying jobs at a time when they’re needed most,” said Schumer. “That is why I am urging the Secretary of the Interior to improve this application right away. The sooner this gets approved, the better it will be for Buffalo. In my opinion, it’s a no-brainer.”

“This is an important designation for Buffalo,” said Gillibrand. “The Richardson Complex is an architectural icon in the City, and is a key player in Western New York’s growing heritage tourism economy. When we invest in our historic buildings, we can support job creation, revitalize some of our most treasured landmarks, and help turn them into beacons of local businesses and local jobs to keep our communities thriving. I urge Secretary Sally Jewel to get this done swiftly so Buffalo can reap the benefits of this amazing project.”

“The historical significance of the Richardson Complex is impressive and indisputable,” said Higgins.  “Restoration of this site is of great importance to a community that has struggled for decades but whose optimism for better days is now being realized as we build on our natural assets and historic infrastructure.” 

The Historic Preservation Certification will help preserve the Richardson Olmsted Complex, which is already a national architectural treasure, and also help advance a plan to re-develop the building into a hotel, event and conference center, and Buffalo Architecture Center. The Richardson Center Corporation has already invested heavily in making improvements to the buildings and grounds, and they have worked closely with the community to devise a redevelopment plan that will greatly enhance tourism, recreation, and the economy of the local community.

Federal historic rehabilitation tax credits are available for any qualified project that the Secretary of the Interior designates as a certified rehabilitation of a certified historic structure. The Historic Tax Credit has been instrumental in boosting the local economy of cities, towns and rural communities as it rewards developers who rehabilitate underused historic spaces for new businesses to use and attract new jobs.

Schumer has been a long-time advocate of the Historic Tax Credit, including serving as an original co-sponsor of the Creating American Prosperity Through Preservation (CAPP) Act. The CAPP Act, introduced in July 2013, would increase the Historic Tax Credit from 20 percent to 30 percent of investment costs for projects that cost less than $7.5 million and make more buildings eligible for the tax credit.

Schumer, Gillibrand and Higgins’ letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is below:

Dear Secretary Jewell:

We write today on behalf of the Richardson Complex Corporation’s Historic Preservation Certification Application, Part 2.  We urge you to quickly approve this application, which will not only help preserve the Richardson Olmsted Complex in Buffalo – a true national treasure – but which will also help advance a plan to re-develop the building into a hotel, event and conference center, and Buffalo Architecture Center.

The Richardson Center Corporation has already invested heavily in stabilization projects and in improvements to the buildings and grounds. In addition, they have worked closely with the local community, including the Richardson Complex Corporation’s Community Advisory Group, and ten public meetings, to come up with a redevelopment plan that provides both community development and improvement, and builds on Richardson’s vision for the building and Olmsted’s vision for the grounds. The resulting project is one that will greatly enhance the tourism, recreation, and economy of the local community and help to restore this grand building.

Buffalo is famous for its renowned architecture and the project to stabilize and restore this building fits perfectly into that reputation. We urge you to quickly review and approve the application for Historic Preservation Certification so that this important project can move forward. Thank you for your consideration.