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Plenty of developers still were willing to meet preservation requirements to get the break.

HISTORY OF THE PROGRAM After Congress passed the Federal Historic Preservation Act of 1966, which created the National Register of Historic Places and set federal policy for preserving historic buildings, Oregon decided to set up one of its own.

Stately buildings dating to the 1800s can qualify; so can generic-looking concrete warehouses.

Each application goes through three stages of review.

Old buildings weren't designed to maximize square footage allowed under current city code, and the buildings' internal layouts don't always match modern usage needs.

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This year, without more in their coffers, the city of Portland left crumbling roads in poor condition; the county and city grappled with how to better respond to homelessness; and Portland Public Schools was forced to eliminate teaching positions.That annual savings, first awarded in 2006, will continue until 2021.Other entities saving hundreds of thousands of dollars on their yearly tax bills include international wind conglomerate Vestas, Canada's largest hotel chain, Portland's Naito family and the University of Oregon Foundation.It's often more expensive to return a historic building to its former glory than to tear down and start over, they say.It also carries more financial risk, as conditions hidden inside and under old walls, foundations and systems are typically unknown until the work is under way.

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