Sunday, January 25, 2015

History Relevancy Campaign: Part 5 Our Communities (continued)

Note: This is part 5 in an 8 part series on the History Relevancy Campaign, based on an article titled "The Value of History: Seven Ways It is Relevant" from Public History News Vol. 35, No. 1.

Note: Any quotes designated by an asterisk (*) come from that article.

Special thanks to the NCPH as inspiration for this series.

From the campaign's call to action: We believe that history --- both knowledge of the past and the practice of researching and making sense of what happened in the past --- is critically important to the wellbeing of individuals, communities, and the future of our nation.*

Our Communities- 4. Economic Development- History is a catalyst for economic growth.*

Historic preservation, restoration, and revitalization activities have long been recognized as vehicles for encouraging economic development. In a similar way to good schools, public parks, and sustainable mass transit, local and state governments have recognized that preserving and utilizing historic sites provides substantial economic benefits. Since 2005, the state of Indiana has issued development contracts related to historic revitalization totaling $21,264,190 (Indiana Economic Development Corporation Transparency Portal). These contracts come in the form of Community Revitalization Enhancement District Tax Credits (also known as CReED).
The purpose of the Community Revitalization Enhancement District Tax Credit (“CReED”) program is to enhance economic development and community revitalization in Indiana. The CReED program provides incentives to companies making investments for redevelopment or rehabilitation of property located in a designated community revitalization enhancement district in Indiana. Companies redeveloping in these designated districts can qualify for a tax credit for up to 25% of their investment. (IDEC Transparency Portal- "Fund Types")
Why would government institutions already strapped for cash choose to offer these tax incentives for restoring old buildings and sections of communities? Because it pays off in the long run.

According to Randall Mason (2005, File page 5), an Associate Professor of City and Regional Planning with the University of Pennsylvania, "Historic preservation is typically judged to be a sound investment. By most accounts, it is more efficient and profitable to preserve a historic building than to construct a new one...Nearly any way the effects are measured, be they direct or indirect, historic preservation tends to yield significant benefits to the economy." (Mason's complete paper can be found here) Mason's assertions about efficiency and profitability make sense, and are evidenced in numerous locale's interests in developing "historic" downtown locations. 

Not only does this preservation help communities establish traditions (see previous post about historic traditions) and maintain continuity of appearance, but also assists in making communities more traffic and visitor friendly by minimizing construction equipment related to tearing down and building structures.(For more information about historic downtown preservation see PlaceEconomics.) Additionally, it is often true that "they don't build them the way they used to" in that (barring advances in areas exposed to earthquakes and the like), historical structures often are built using materials which can last up to 100 years or more. There is a reason that most government buildings are built with brick, marble, and limestone. It lasts. Unlike the materials used in modern construction (which are chosen often based on financial considerations), the materials used in historic homes and buildings were typically chosen based on their longevity and integrity. With the incorporation of contemporary materials, these buildings will be here for generations to come.

For a quick synopsis of some of the additional benefits of historic preservation on economic development, see the Preservation Action Council of San Jose's 12 Economic Benefits of Historic Preservation. For a more in depth analysis, see Mason's "The Economics of Historic Preservation" (link above) or Rypkema and Cheong's report to the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, "Measuring Economic Impacts of Historic Preservation," (2011).

To find out how to help with historic preservation near you, look at the National Trust for Historic Preservation's website (here), the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (here), and the National Parks Service website for historic preservation which includes links to state offices (here).

No comments:

Post a Comment