Take a walk down Jefferson Street and historic preservation is apparent.

There's the Loft and the First United Methodist Church. The church burned in April 2007, but here it is back today.

Here's Bent River Brewery. Built in Burlington's old J.C. Penney's building, the restaurant has the high tin ceilings of days old. 

And here's the Tama building, bustling with construction. Suffering a fire of its own, many of the offices upstairs sat empty for decades before crews started building the apartments currently in construction. 

All three of those projects made use of the National Park Service's Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives Program. The program brought $13.5 million in investment to downtown Burlington from between 2011 and 2014, according to Downtown Partners Executive Director Steve Frevert. He guesses the number can soon be increased by about another $10 million to account for the Tama project. 

That same historic tax credit program would end if tax reform being considered in the U.S. House of Representatives is adopted. Frevert believes ending the program could cripple projects that would otherwise likely occur in downtown Burlington.

"We've seen a lot of successes, and I think potential is there to see even more," Frevert said. "That's why losing a tool like the federal tax credit would be a real blow."

Monday, Burlington City Council passed a resolution urging U.S. Rep. Rod Blum, U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley and U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst to not support any tax reform that cuts the program. U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack was not included in the resolution because he's already spoken out against it, council members noted.

The council's move echoed similar declarations made recently in Davenport and other Iowa cities. 

The program works by giving tax credits toward renovation projects. Some developers can make use of the credits themselves, but they are more commonly sold to investors seeking a federal tax reduction. Revenue from the sale help fund the project. Developers generally get 20 percent of their invested funds worth of tax credits. 

Buildings are only eligible for the program if they are on the National Register of Historic Places. Developers have a lot of "hoops to jump through," according to Jerry Jochims, who handled getting the tax incentive for First United Methodist. 

Asked if their church would've been rebuilt without the credit, Jochims said "probably not."

"We're still not quite fully restored financially," Jochims said. "Even counting all of the resources we had to use, we would have still been short without that help from the government." 

Jochims and others involved worked to make the renovation fit the program's requirements. Their old pipe organ wouldn't count toward the credits, but historically accurate windows in the church would. 

The Loft was paired with the church project so the whole thing would qualify. Completed projects must create revenue to get the credits. 

Councilwoman Becky Anderson, a developer behind the Bent River project, shared some of her experience with the program at Monday's city council meeting. 

"If this goes away, I can just pretty well guarantee you there won't be more development downtown," Anderson said.

Several downtown warehouses and empty structures are eligible for the program. Frevert said "virtually the entire downtown area," save for a few newer buildings here and there, is eligible.

A 2015 study by the Rutgers University Center for Urban Policy Research found that, in the long term, the program is a "strategic investment that works", money-wise. The study analyzed the program's data from 1978 through 2015 and found that $23.1 billion spent on the program caused $120.8 billion in investments. Those dollars are adjusted for inflation. Projects created 2.4 million jobs in the same time frame, the study also reports.