Continued high interest and activity on the Opportunity Zone fronts on many levels this past week. Conversations, closings and connections continue at a torrid pace – including a packed IMN conference in NYC this past week with many of the national and regional luminaries in attendance. By way of a quick update on a few fronts, courtesy of our friends at Novogradac for their recon:
Federal – On March 12th, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) received the 2nd tranche of regulatory guidance for review from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) concerning the opportunity zones (OZ) incentive. OIRA is a division of the White House Office Management of the Budget. The proposed IRS rule is expected to address what types of property qualify as qualified OZ business property, steps an OZ business must take to be qualified, the penalty for a qualified opportunity fund’s failure to meet the 90% investment standard and more. After a mandated review of at least 10 days, the OMB is expected to release the guidance to be published in the Federal Register. The first tranche of guidance was reviewed for 36 days before it was published.
Vermont – H 442 introduced in the Vermont Legislature would make investments made in Opportunity Zones eligible to apply annually for the state Downtown and Village Center Tax Credit, which is twice as often as other projects are allowed to apply and would expand eligibility under the program only for OZ investments. The Downtown and Village Center Tax Credit covers between 10 percent and 50 percent of eligible rehabilitation expenses and has a $2.4 million statewide annual cap. If enacted, the bill would go into effect July 1.
Ohio – Gov. Mike DeWine said that his proposed 2020-2021 budget will call for a 10% state income tax credit to attract investment to opportunity zones. DeWine will propose a nonrefundable credit using existing tax credit availability to create the new credit.
At this point 31 states have “followed form” and are offering some level of state capital gains relief to those who follow the federal opportunity zone rules and invest in businesses or real estate pursuant to the federal OZ rules and regulations. New Jersey is moving ahead with a bill to become the 32nd state.
I look forward to seeing some of you on the 25th at our discussion in Baltimore on OZs. If of interest, drop me an email as space is limited. Best regards.
– Brad A. Molotsky, Esq.
Governor Jared Polis announced the formation of a dedicated office within the Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) to cultivate active investment in Colorado’s 126 federally designated Opportunity Zones.
“Colorado has earned national recognition for our thoughtful and inclusive approach designating Opportunity Zones, and we are committed to ensuring that we realize the maximum potential,” said Governor Jared Polis. “It’s vital that we continue to build on this momentum and collaborate with communities and investors to make these opportunities a reality to create good jobs.”
The new team will be led by recently named Opportunity Zone Program Director Jana Persky and charged with engaging stakeholders to facilitate active investment in designated Colorado tracts. The office will provide procedural guidance and technical knowledge to enable communities to secure much-needed investment and is funded through an Economic Development Commission allocation.
The office is partnering with the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) to support communities in developing Opportunity Zone strategies, with the goal of attracting capital to projects that will have a positive community impact.
“DOLA has been working in partnership with local communities and leaders and OEDIT to identify where their designated areas can achieve its full potential,” said DOLA Executive Director Rick Garcia. “Through the Opportunity Zone program, equitable distribution will be possible in some of our rural areas of the state which will provide them with the opportunity to continue along the path towards economic innovation throughout Colorado.”
To help facilitate Opportunity Zone investments, the office will offer grants to support economic modeling, prospectus development, and other technical assistance needed to help community-oriented projects come to fruition.
OEDIT, in conjunction with Startup Colorado and the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network, has also launched CO-Invest.co to connect investors and opportunities – including opportunity zones – to leverage the speed and reach of technology to further facilitate the investment opportunities.
Great to see communities, the State and its economic development teams working hand in glove to deliver great resources and tools to the market place to assist those interested in appropriate investment that is desired by the applicable communities. Way to go CO!
In Secretary Mnuchin’s speech at the US Conference of Mayor’s Winter Meeting, he stated:
“…We plan to issue shortly a second set of Opportunity Zone proposed regulations that will provide additional certainty for both businesses and investors. We will clarify, as we have already indicated in the press, that income is not the same as revenues for the requirement that 50% of a zone’s business gross income must come from active conduct of business in the Opportunity Zone. We are also reviewing appropriate safe harbor rules for meeting the test based on where services are performed and where the tangible property is located to create additional opportunity”
While not yet Treasury’s official position, it appears as though these comments indicate Treasury’s inclination to loosen the requirements rather than tightening them.
Per CRE Model, if the regulations ultimately allow Qualified Opportunity Zone Businesses to satisfy the 50% gross income test by locating in an Opportunity Zone without requiring them to derive that income from transactions that take place within the Opportunity Zone, then this would enable many businesses that otherwise would not qualify to consider locating within the Opportunity Zone.
Under the October regulations, retail properties are likely to see increased interest from QOZB tenants because they will (in most cases) more easily source 50% of their income from inside the Opportunity Zone. However, many office and industrial tenants are likely to have wider trade areas that could disqualify them. If Treasury expands the requirement to only require that the activity that generates the income must take place inside an Opportunity Zone, then these property types are likely to see increased tenant interest.
Feel free to contact our OZ team at Duane Morris if you have any questions or other concerns on this or any other OZ topics – Brad A. Molotsky
As 2019’s first full week moves towards a close (well, so what if we are working tomorrow or Sunday :)), wishing all fellow P3, public-private partnership and Opportunity Zone participants and those delving into the area, a Happy and a Healthy New Years.
2019 looks to be a busy year in the #OpportunityZone space. With one of the key benefits of the federal program (i.e., a 7-year investment time period with related 15% reduction in invested capital gains) expiring at the end of this coming year, many clients and prospects are extremely focused on deploying capital gains capital into this space in 2019.
My prediction is that if 2019 is anything like the number of calls and conversations and meetings we have been hosting and fielding in the 4th quarter of 2018, it will be a very robust, active and busy year in the OZ space. Having closing multiple deals in the 4th quarter for family office owners, developers and having many on-going conversations regarding Qualified Opportunity Zone businesses and funds, I am very excited for 2019 and all it will bring.
Have a fabulous January and I look forward to speaking with you about OZs and P3s in 2019!
-Brad A. Molotsky