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Interior Secretary, Levin to talk historic preservation in Detroit

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Senator Carl Levin and Michigan officials will host a meeting in Detroit tomorrow to talk about how tax breaks for historic preservation projects can help distressed cities.

In a statement, Secretary Salazar says the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives program has been used for 70 projects in Detroit since 2000. He says he wants to talk about how that program can help revitalize the city.

The meeting will take place in the Odd Fellows Building, which was rehabbed in 2006 with the help of historic tax credits.

But historic preservation projects have fewer state incentives these days. Governor Snyder and state lawmakers did away with Michigan's historic tax credits in 2011, along with many other state tax credits.

At the time, development officials said the elimination of state tax breaks for historic preservation and brownfield redevelopment would be "devastating" for redevelopment projects in Detroit.

"We have seen a decrease, a rather dramatic decrease, in the number of applications or rehabilitation projects that have come through the state Historic Preservation Office,” said Michigan State Historic Preservation Officer Brian Conway.

Conway says there are still a number of projects underway or soon to be underway that were approved under the old state program.

After the meeting, Conway's office and the National Parks Service will hold a workshop to teach property owners, developers and architects how to qualify for the federal tax breaks.

Sarah Hulett is Michigan Public's Director of Amplify & Longform, helping reporters to do their best work.