If my in-box is any indication, Historic Preservation Tax Credit programs is a hot topic. Federal and state historic credits are not anything new. The federal government, through the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, paved the way financial incentives for rehabilitating older buildings. Honestly, without any kind of tax incentive, historic preservation would still be the occupation of tea sipping, little old ladies with big hats. Seriously though, in November the city of Savannah, Georgia will play host to the annual National Trust for Historic Preservation Conference, with the Historic Savannah Foundation and the Savannah College of Art and Design actings as sponsors. In advance of the Conference, Kenneth Zapp, a professor emeritus at Metropolitan State University in Savannah, Georgia, discusses "The Economic of Historic Preservation" for Business Savannah. The article does a good job of succinctly explaining why it pays to rehabilitate, rather than tear down, older buildings.
Jobs: Job generation and retention are always a key issue anywhere you go and especially during an election cycle. According to one of Mr. Rypkema's findings, "The federal historic tax credit program invested $19.2 billion through jobs. This cost per job ($8,868) is extremely low compared to other federal stimulus spending...."
|Cathedral Historic District|
Environmental Impact: as the old saying goes, "The greenest building is the one already built." Mr. Rypkema's study demonstrated that "Preservation projects save 50 percent to 80 precent in infrastructure development." Adaptive re-use is almost always the more sustainable way to build rather than new construction.
|Providence, Rhode Island|
Downtown revitalization: this goes without saying, historic preservation has repeatedly demonstrated to be a highly effective tool for downtown revitalization. One instrument for downtown revitalization is the highly successful Main Street Program from our friends at the National Trust. In over thirty-one years of existence, the Main Street Program has been responsible for bringing downtowns back to life, creating 473,000 jobs at the low cost per job of $2,394, and more downtown business openings. Another bonus, a study found that revitalized downtowns experienced more pedestrian traffic, less automobile noise and pollution.
|Mansion in the Spanish oaks|
Historic preservation provides a myriad of economic benefits to cities and towns. Some of the benefits are immediate, others take time to develop. It is worth the time and effort to consider preservation a viable option to generating jobs and revenue for a city. The National Trust for Historic Preservation Conference in November will go into greater detail about the economic benefits of preservation. Let's hope the powers that be listen carefully.
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