Letters to the Editor

Important to push preservation

The editorial “Wasting time on lost causes” criticized Landmarks Illinois for naming the Murphy Building in East St. Louis to its 2015 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois.

Landmarks Illinois included the Murphy Building to call attention to the termination of the pilot State Historic Tax Credit program at the close of 2016. Available in five cities including East St. Louis, these important credits spur private investment, create jobs and put buildings back on the tax rolls through historic rehabilitation. In Rockford, for example, these credits have leveraged $120 million in private reinvestment and created 480 permanent jobs and 824 temporary construction jobs in only four years.

Downtown East St. Louis is in critical need of catalytic incentives to encourage economic development, and historic tax credits are crucial to achieving that goal.

The Murphy Building has only been eligible for the pilot State Historic Tax Credit since September 2014, when it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. In such a short time, it has been difficult to determine whether a developer could save the building’s facade and front portion while demolishing and rebuilding the damaged rear portion.

The Murphy Building remains an example of why the Illinois legislature must pass a permanent statewide Historic Tax Credit. Without this incentive, we will continue to lose significant buildings at an alarming rate, while our neighbors in Missouri and Iowa (and 32 other states) use their state’s historic tax credits to revive and redevelop their historic downtowns.

Frank Butterfield

Director, Landmarks Illinois