A new life for Washington’s historic properties

Floor speechThe Washington State Senate on Tuesday afternoon unanimously passed Senate Bill 6523, which would allow private parties to lease and make improvements to state-owned properties under certain circumstances. I introduced the bill after several businesses indicated an interest in restoring a historic building on state land.

There are many historic buildings owned by state agencies that are in need of restoration and as we know, the agencies are short on funding right now. With this bill, private parties can lease the property and restore it under specific guidelines.

Under SB 6523 a state agency could negotiate a lease for a rate below fair market value. If the property is listed (or is eligible to be listed) on the National Register of Historic Places, the Washington Heritage Register, or a local historic register, the agency must consult with the Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation and all work performed on the property must comply with U.S. Department of Interior standards for rehabilitation of historic properties.

This isn’t the first time I’ve proposed the idea, and I’m pleased the measure has now cleared another hurdle on its way to becoming law. I ran this idea up the flagpole a few years back but it just wasn’t able to get anywhere. I’m glad that my colleagues in the Senate can see the potential, not only for the preservation of historic places in our state but for the revenue that could be generated by leasing the land and properties to private parties.

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.