Two critical measures are working their way through the State Legislature, apparently to become part of New York’s 2013-14 budget. One would make it easier for developers to undertake what can otherwise be the prohibitively expensive job of restoring historic buildings. The other would help fix a problem made painfully obvious when a movie about the Buffalo Bills – that was supposed to be filmed in Buffalo – high-tailed it to Cleveland because it cost less to film it there.
Both of these are important developments for upstate, and especially Buffalo, with its treasure trove of historic buildings awaiting reclamation and with its distance from New York City, the state’s filming capital.
The tax credit measure extends the current law until 2020 and, in Buffalo alone, will make thousands of properties eligible for cost savings on restoration work. Developer Rocco Termini, who used a $5 million tax credit in restoring what is now known as the Hotel @ the Lafayette, had advocated for a bigger credit – one that would have made feasible work on big-ticket projects such as the old AM&A’s department store – but Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo last year vetoed a bill to do that. This will have to do, and it will plainly be of significant use.
Sen. Mark J. Grisanti, R-Buffalo, who pushed for the $12 million cap, has said he would now seek to increase the upper limit in stages, by about $2 million a year, rather than all at once. That’s a smart approach, given the conflicting influences of urban needs and pinched state revenues.
Meanwhile, Grisanti’s Senate colleague, Patrick M. Gallivan, R-Elma, had pushed to expand the state incentives for filming in upstate New York following the producer’s decision to move the filming of “Draft Day” from Buffalo to Cleveland. The movie that was supposed to focus on the Bills will instead feature the Browns.
Gallivan had sought to enact a four-tiered system that provided greater benefits with distance from New York City. Under his plan, Buffalo would have been able to offer a 45 percent tax credit, but the bill working toward passage would offer 40 percent. Even that is expected to make a significant difference.
Better late than never, but too bad it took the loss of a movie about the Bills to put it on Albany’s radar.