Home » Resources » Baltimore City Historic Tax Credit

Update: This Baltimore City Historic Tax Credit Program was successfully renewed for two additional years in early 2014. Thank you to everyone who supported our campaign for renewal! Learn more about city, state and federal historic tax credits with our comprehensive guide. Don’t forget to check out our new resources for homeowners and share your own suggestions for how we can continue to support preservation and revitalization in Baltimore.

What is the Baltimore Historic Tax Credit Program?

Baltimore’s Historic Tax Credit Program was established in 1996 and offers a 10-year comprehensive property tax credit for home-owners and commercial property owners in any of the city’s over 70 historic districts. The program is administered by the staff of the Commission for Historical & Architectural Preservation (CHAP) within the Department of Planning, and in coordination with the City’s Department of Finance.

Over the past 17 years, the Baltimore City Historic Tax Credit has been one of the most powerful tools for saving and restoring historic buildings in Baltimore while creating jobs, bringing new residents to Baltimore, and encouraging economic development. Over 2800 rehabilitation projects have received support from this program totalling an investment of nearly $600 million in Baltimore’s economy. The renewal of this program is essential for hundreds of contractors, small developers and home-owners living and working in historic neighborhoods across the city.

How does the Baltimore Historic Tax Credit Program help the city?

The Baltimore Historic Tax Credits supports the city’s goals in several ways:

  • Strengthening neighborhoods with new residents and investment
  • Encouraging good design and high quality construction
  • Maintaining the historic character of Baltimore’s neighborhoods
  • Bringing vacant and underused buildings back to life

Strengthening neighborhoods with new residents and investment

The Baltimore Historic Tax Credit Program has supported a $589 million in investment in historic home, apartment buildings and commercial properties since 1997. Interest in the program is presently at an all-time high with 892 restorations underway that will offer an additional $600 million dollar investment when those projects reach completion. The program is most often used by small residential developers and homeowners and is promoted by Live Baltimore as an essential tool for realtors “selling” the city to new residents.

Encouraging good design and high quality construction

All applicants work with staff to secure approval for their design and meet the CHAP’s Design Guidelines before starting work. This process helps ensure developers and homeowners are using appropriate materials and investing in high quality construction.

Maintaining the historic character of Baltimore’s neighborhoods

A market study of median sales prices and assessments in 2006 found that home values in historic districts are substantially higher than the Baltimore City as a whole. A 2013 report on Regenerating America’s Legacy Cities identified historic buildings and neighborhoods as a key asset in maintaining and encouraging a dense, vital and walkable city center – calling it the “low-hanging fruit of regeneration.”

Bringing vacant and underused buildings back to life

Many of the rehabilitation projects completed with the Historic Tax Credit have been vacant or distressed rowhouses that have been reused and restored by local home-owners and developers.

How does the Baltimore Historic Tax Credit help my neighborhood?

Historic tax credits are used in virtually every historic neighborhood in Baltimore and are often combined with other city and state programs for homeowners and developers such as the Healthy Neighborhoods Loan Programs and city weatherization incentives.

Summary of completed rehabilitation projects and investment:

Central Baltimore

Neighborhoods in Central Baltimore including the Barclay/Greenmount, Charles Village/Abell, Old Goucher, Oakenshawe and Waverly historic districts had a total of 61 completed rehabilitation projects for an investment of $29,857,634.

Southeast Baltimore

Neighborhoods in Southeast Baltimore including Butchers Hill, Canton, Fells Point, Patterson Park/ Highlandtown, Upper Fells Point and Washington Hill had a total of 631 completed rehabilitation projects for an investment of $151,081,170. By June of this year alone, the tax credit supported 82 completed rehabilitation projects for $9,469,059 on top of an investment of $141,612,111 from 1996 to 2012.

South Baltimore

Neighborhoods in South Baltimore including the Federal Hill, Federal Hill South and Locust Point historic districts had a total of 86 completed rehabilitation projects which had an investment value of $14,802,421. By June of this year alone, 10 completed rehabilitation projects accounted for $3,239,889 on top of an investment of $11,562,532 from 1996 to 2012.

Southwest Baltimore

Neighborhoods in Southwest Baltimore including the Barre Circle, Franklin Square, Pigtown, Union Square, Riverside, and Ridgely’s Delight historic districts had a total of 168 completed rehabilitation projects which has an investment value of $23,582,002. By June of this year alone, 15 completed rehabilitation projects accounted for $1,848,157 on top of an investment of $21,733,845 from 1996 to 2012.

How can I help promote the renewal of the Baltimore Historic Tax Credit Program?

City Council Bill #13-0287 / Tax Credits – Historic Restorations and Rehabilitations introduced by City Council President Bernard Jack Young will extend the Historic Tax Credit Program through February 28, 2016. Please come out and support this proposal by testifying before the Baltimore Planning Commission on November 21.

Baltimore Planning Commission Hearing
Thursday, November 21, 1:30pm
Benton Building, 417 East Fayette Street, 8th Floor, Baltimore, MD 21231

The Department of Planning will present information and recommendations on the Historic Tax Credit Program and anyone with an interest in the program will have a brief opportunity to testify about the program.

Don’t forget your ID! Security procedures in the Benton Building require that you bring photo-identification with you. The Benton Building and the hearing room are wheelchair accessible. For questions about the hearing, contact Stacy Montgomery at 410-396-4866.

Here are our tips for making the most of your testimony:

  • Introduce yourself – Sounds obvious but it is easy to forget. Start with your name! If you are testifying as a contractor, developer or business owner, share the name of your company and what kind of work you do. If you are testifying as a home-owner, share where you live and how long you have lived in the city.
  • Lead with your key message – Make a clear statement of support for the City Council Bill #13-0287 and the renewal of the Baltimore Historic Tax Credit Program.
  • Make it personal – Back up your message with a unique personal stories – e.g. how did restoring an old vacant house transform to your block, how did the historic tax credit program help you grow your business, how did the historic tax credit help you sell a house to a new Baltimorean.
  • Stick to the facts – Back up your information with citations to reliable sources. Speculation or opinions unrelated to your key message are discouraged.
  • Keep it short – Prepare to talk for 5 minutes or less! Short and sweet is the most memorable and effective way to share your perspective.
  • Say thank you – Good manners are always appreciated. Close your testimony by thanking the Planning Commission for their attention.