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Historic tax credits help to spur economic growth in small towns across Colorado

Our Colorado: Brighton sees transformation
Posted at 10:51 AM, Dec 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-15 12:51:18-05

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BRIGHTON, Colo. -- As Colorado's growth spurt continues, many small towns are trying to capitalize on the boom by revitalizing their often sad, dilapidated downtowns.

In those downtown areas you can often find the aging barber shop - signs of just how old things are - and lamp posts all decked out for the holidays this time of year.

Small downtowns also have complex and often untold stories of the past.

“It was a Buddhist temple, originally," said Nathaniel Miller standing inside the old temple. “It was built in 1940."

Preserving that history has been a bumpy road.

"From what we understand - the KKK went down Main street protesting it, the building of this building," Miller said.

But, it withstood the test of time. And now, there's yet a new chapter unfolding at the old Buddhist temple.

"This is Big Choice Brewing," said Andrea Miller, owner of Big Choice Brewing.

Nathaniel and Andrea have taken Brighton's oldest Buddhist temple and turned it into a different kind of gathering spot.

"It's a real draw, I think,” Andrea said. “It was a draw for us to be here. People always walk-in and they ask, ‘Was this a church?’”

"What we're walking through here is the brewhouse," Nathaniel said, giving us a tour of the basement where the brewery is located.

Preserving this past might not be possible without Colorado's just renewed historic tax credits in 2018.

"Especially in the rural communities of Colorado,” said Mark Rodman, chief preservation programs officer and deputy state historic preservation officer for History Colorado. “It gives them a tool to take their historic buildings and assets and use them for economic development."

In the case of Big Choice Brewery, they got a 30 percent tax credit on the $90,000 they spent renovating. A whooping $27,000 total to help bring this place back to life.

"When those buildings are abandoned and not used, that's a drain on their economy,” Rodman said. “It brings everything down."

"This was all dirt where I'm standing," Nathaniel said.

"We as a small business now get to kind of preserve and build on that," Andrea said.

“A lot of people are making their home downtown," Nathaniel said. “So, it’s fun to be a part of that.”

The historic tax credit program in Colorado was founded in 1990, bolstered in 2014 by a law that established a $10 million annual fund for commercial preservations and was just renewed this year through 2029.