Paul Goldman, former senior adviser to Richmond Mayor L. Douglas Wilder, is resurrecting his plan to renovate Richmond's aging schools with federal tax credits. And he's found a new accomplice: former Republican Gov. George Allen.
A New York Times op-ed this week, co-written by Goldman and Allen, suggests revisiting Goldman's proposal to change the federal tax code to allow local governments to take advantage of federal historic tax credits when they rehab historic but dilapidated schools and other governmental buildings.
At a news conference scheduled for Oct. 13 at the State Capitol, Goldman says he planned to announce that he's found a Richmond-based real estate company to bankroll a renovation of city schools.
“They finally found a Democrat and Republican that could agree on something,” Goldman says of The New York Times piece, noting that historic tax credits usually have been an issue of bipartisan agreement.
Municipalities already can use state tax credits, but the federal code only allows tax credits for municipal structures if the buildings are repurposed. In other words, a school building can't remain a school building. Goldman and Allen are pushing to allow school districts to sell federal tax credits to pay for renovation projects at existing schools.
Goldman suggests that major school renovation in Richmond and around the country could provide much-needed economic stimulus without a messy direct cash handout.
“There will be several billion [dollars] in potential construction that could go on in Virginia,” he says. “And Richmond would be a great beneficiary because we have the greatest amount of old schools that need fixing.”
Well over half of Richmond's school buildings are more than 50 years old, and many of them were designed by renowned architect Charles M. Robinson. School Board Chairwoman Chandra Smith says she's interested in Goldman and Allen's proposal.
“Anything that could move the board forward in building schools, we would be interested,” she says, adding that cooperation between schools and Mayor Dwight Jones would be imperative.