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Woodstock City Council retains law firm for $25K in hope of obtaining historic tax credits for Old Courthouse

Historic tax credit program could fund as much as $1.9 million for renovations

Woodstock is attempting to get historic tax credits to help fund Old Courthouse renovations
Woodstock is attempting to get historic tax credits to help fund Old Courthouse renovations

The Woodstock City Council has agreed to retain a law firm to help the city obtain federal and state historic tax credits for use toward an overhaul of the Old Courthouse and Sheriff’s House.

The city has owned the properties on the historic Square since 2011 and has spent millions in renovations – but the buildings still aren’t fully functional. City officials are contemplating a plan that would use historic tax credits and tax-increment finance district funds to pay for a nearly $5 million overhaul.

Identified uses for the property include a boutique hotel, artist gallery and studio spaces, a co-working space, office and retail spaces, a banquet space and restaurant or cafe space.

Renovations to the areas of the Old Courthouse that are in the worst shape and the creation of the banquet space in the Old Courthouse would be the priorities.

Historic tax credits could provide almost $2 million toward the project, but the program is complicated, so a specialized attorney is needed to help with the city’s application, city officials said.

The Woodstock City Council agreed to spend $25,000 to retain Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone, with locations in Chicago, Michigan, New York, Ohio and around the globe.

“Miller Canfield is uniquely situated to assist the city with this complex rehabilitation project,” Firm officials wrote in a proposal to Woodstock. “Our municipal finance team is readily able to address any private inurement risks and ensure the proper overall financing structure is used.”

The firm is experienced in structuring financing plans that use historic, new market, low income, and other federal and state tax credits, according to the proposal.

Lawyers with the firm charge $420 an hour, a tax-exempt finance expert will charge $340 an hour and a “tax associate” will charge $275 an hour.

The estimated costs for the project is the $25,000, but the city would have to pay more if the firm has to work longer than anticipated to find an investor or the investor wants to negotiate a different plan than proposed, according to the proposal.

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