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NRC policy recommendations aim at improving quality of life.

One of the nation's foremost public policy advocates for commercial real estate has released "America's Real Estate: 1999 National Policy Agenda," a set of recommendations to Congress and the Clinton Administration on key U.S. tax, capital and credit, environmental and technology issues.

Singularly and collectively, they represent solutions for equitably balancing economic growth with environmental preservation to serve the unique needs of individual communities, restoring the vitality of center cities and older suburbs through responsible tax and environmental policies, ensuring efficient capital and credit flows in an increasingly global economy, and building sensibly planned, eco-friendly and technologically advanced communities for the future.

National Realty Committee's annual policy agenda also underscores real estate's significance to the U.S. economy - an industry that creates nearly 9 million jobs, generates 12 percent of America's gross domestic product and produces 70 percent of the taxes raised by local governments for essential public services.

"Every American citizen - from city to suburb, whether large town or small - has a stake in responsible, growth-oriented federal real estate policy," said Jeffrey D. DeBoer, president and chief operating officer of the National Realty Committee. "This year, Congress and the Administration face enormous tax, capital and credit, environmental and technology policy challenges. Many are quality of life issues that could 'profoundly affect America's and real estate's future ability to grow and prosper. Our recommendations on these issues - all grounded in real world business realities are at the heart of NRC's 1999 National Policy Agenda. All are based on a vision shared by the leaders who make up Real Estate's Roundtable - that of industry, government and local citizens working together to solve tough problems, whether it be Social Security reform or brownfields reform, through sound business and public policy. As leaders of America's commercial real estate industry, we are committed to working with federal lawmakers and regulators to make these recommendations a reality - to deliver on a promise of a better way of life tomorrow and for generations to come."

Among NRC's recommendations for legislative or regulatory action in 1999 are:

Smart Growth: Federal policies that counteract or undermine state and local government efforts to revitalize communities through smart growth initiatives should be amended or rescinded. For example, to help reinvigorate and preserve the integrity of our nation's communities, U.S. tax policy should be modified to enhance the efficiency and use of rehabilitation tax credits, as well as remove impediments to demolishing abandoned, non-historic buildings.

So that property owners can more readily adapt their buildings to fit the demanding needs of today's modern business tenant, federal tax laws should also allow the costs of demolishing and reconfiguring building space for tenants to be depreciated over a period of time that more closely reflects the improvement's average seven- to 10-year lifespan, rather than the 39 years required now.

At the same time, the temporary deductibility of brownfields clean-up costs should be made a permanent part of the tax code and broadened to encourage clean-up in areas beyond federal empowerment zones.

Federal policies should also encourage the development of promising new building technologies that conserve energy and other finite environmental resources by providing tax credits for energy-efficient "green building" applications.

Tax Reform: Because comprehensive tax system reform would have far-ranging implications for real estate, particularly real estate asset values, any major shift from the current tax system to a new system must provide a multi-year transition period that treats existing and new investments equitably.

Environmental Reform: Better federal policies that accommodate both economic growth and environmental protection are needed in areas such as brownfields redevelopment, endangered species protection, global warming, indoor air quality, private property rights, stormwater run-off management and wetlands reform.

Technology Access: To meet the growing information needs of building owners and users, federal policies should allow the marketplace to generate solutions to the infrastructure issues inherent in making technological products and services available and accessible to users of commercial space.

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs): To ensure appropriate levels of liquidity in the nation's real estate markets and to enable REITs to meet evolving market demands for modern services, federal policies should reflect the significance of REITs as an investment vehicle and their underlying importance in maintaining strong real estate asset values.

Copies of America's Real Estate: 1999 National Policy Agenda are available, free of charge, by calling NRC in Washington at (202) 639-8400.
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Title Annotation:National Realty Committee
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Apr 7, 1999
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