Covenant College has confirmed that it is eligible for tax credits worth between $3.5 million and $4 million dollars for its historic renovation of Carter Hall.
According to Dan Wykoff, Vice President for Finance and Operations & CFO, the college finalized the process of becoming eligible for the credits shortly before Christmas.
With the tax credits and a recent matching offer from donors, Covenant expects to be fully debt free upon the completion of the renovations. Donors have offered to match up to $5 million dollars in donations to help pay for the rehabilitation.
Before Covenant could receive tax credits for renovations, Carter Hall had to claim a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, a list maintained by the National Parks Service. To earn a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, Carter Hall has to be converted to its original state. This includes restoring the original roof and building porches on the north and south ends of the building.
Because Covenant is on the National Register of Historic Places, the government will pay twenty percent of the school’s qualified rehabilitation expenses, or QRE’s in the form of tax credits. Covenant College is a nonprofit organization, meaning it does not pay taxes. However, Covenant is allowed to sell its tax credits to a for-profit company, a venture capital firm in Washington D.C.
One of the stipulations of being on the National Register of Historic Places is that Carter Hall may not be used primarily for religious purposes. Mr. Wykoff said, “We might say everything we do is for religious purposes.” However, from the government’s standpoint, this means that more than 50% may not be used for things like chapel services and Bible studies. If the use of Carter Hall changed drastically, it would be easy to take Carter off of the register.
For now, Mr. Wykoff stated that Covenant is still on track to finish the renovations by August 2017. Clearly excited about the prospect of a full restoration, Mr. Wykoff stated, “Carter Hall is going to look spectacular.”
The changes are not only aesthetic, but also functional. Carter has been suffering from water leakage for years and the renovations will stop the water damage. President Halvorson stated, “It’s a wonderful providence that it turns out that the most effective way to weatherproof this building is to actually return it to its original look.”
Over the last few years, Covenant has tested different waterproofing techniques at the north end of Carter. The school decided to pursue an advanced sealant that will last for 40-50 years and a new roof that will last for 80 years. Halvorson said, “I would like for it to be the case that my successor and my successor’s successor and my successor’s successor’s successor doesn’t have to worry about the exterior of Carter Hall.”
Despite the mayhem of construction, residents are excited about a renovated Carter as well. Matt Schroeder, President of Carter Hall stated, “I think Carter will look great! I have heard a lot of people especially excited about the new windows. They are huge and let in so much light during the day. I can’t wait to see the tower finally finished in a few weeks. It’s going to be something else.”