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Home arrowNews arrowMarch 7, 2014

Cities Should Apply Historic Preservation Strategies, Including Use of Tax Credits, To Build Strong Communities

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Cities losing population face many challenges as they adapt to necessary change, but change offers the opportunity for a better future if communities build on their historic assets, according to a new report from the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP).

In an effort to inform the discussion that legacy cities are having around the nation, the ACHP’s report Managing Change: Preservation and Rightsizing in America takes a fresh look at rightsizing from a historic preservation perspective. It highlights how historic preservation strategies, which are often overlooked by local decision makers, can revitalize cities undergoing major economic and population shifts.

“The National Historic Preservation Act has been in effect for almost a half-century,” said Milford Wayne Donaldson, FAIA, ACHP chairman. “Since its inception, the national preservation movement has learned much about how to create vibrant towns and cities and has helped to retain what is best about communities while repurposing heritage assets to build better futures.”

The report, issued today, contains findings and recommendations on rightsizing, based upon extensive outreach and collaboration with federal agencies, local governments, community organizations and the public. It also includes case studies of how federal resources have helped revitalize neighborhoods.

One of the key conclusions emphasized is the importance of the federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives program as a rightsizing tool. Since its launch in 1976, the federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives program has generated more than 2.2 million jobs and $66 billion in private investment, and proven itself as a tool for revitalizing communities. The report notes that “Tax incentives ... offer the greatest public financial stimulus to the redevelopment of historic properties and are invaluable tools that need to be broadened in their reach to realize their full potential to address rightsizing challenges.”

While the report focuses on legacy cities -- older industrial cities undergoing dramatic change -- its findings and recommendations are relevant to any city or town that exhibits rightsizing characteristics. It offers community leaders, local stakeholders and government agencies valuable suggestions on using historic preservation tools and techniques that have proven effective in managing change and building strong, resilient communities.

Residents; federal, state, and local officials; and non-profits will learn the important role federal agencies play in assisting communities to address rightsizing. The report also includes a list of federal programs and major foundations that may provide assistance to local governments for transformation initiatives.

The report is available at


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