Downtown Historic District.
rights and a further erosion of property values. Today, the opponents are believers in the value of historic district zoning
30 percent of the properties had been foreclosed. Blighted conditions triggered precipitous decreases in property values.
foreclosed property was sold to a private developer in 1993. The area is now home to 55 restaurants and clubs, 30 art
galleries, and 650 new residential units. Property values have doubled and private investment, not including Coors Field –
the new home of the Colorado Rockies baseball team – has exceeded $75 million.
success? The answer is simple: scarcity and certainty create value.
Small businesses and investors were lured into the area by its
charm and historic character – and by a knowledge that it would
remain that way. In other words, historic district zoning gave
investors assurance that their investments in rehabilitated, turn of
the century buildings would not be undermined by billboards,
parking lots, or other insensitive developments on nearly
properties. The city’s $2 million investment in streetscape
improvements also reinforced private investment in Lower
commercial revitalization, business investments and increased tourism. This was the finding of a wide ranging 1995
study by the Preservation Alliance of Virginia. According to David J. Brown, Executive Director of the Alliance,
“Historic preservation is economic growth and the reality is that preservation means dollars in the pockets of
and billion a year tourism industry. Seven out of ten first time visitors come to the state to visit historic sites, museums,
and battlefields. The study also found that history minded visitors stay longer and spend more; two and a half times more
than the amount spent by other visitors.
buildings in Virginia pursuant to the federal Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit. This program created over 6,600 jobs
in the construction trades and over 6,000 jobs in spin off areas. Construction related historic preservation activity
yielded a total of $270 million in household income in Virginia.
communities in the Main Street Program – whose goal is downtown revitalization within the context of historic
preservation – have netted more than 1,100 new businesses, spurred the rehabilitation of 1,622 historic buildings
and resulted in a net gain of 2, 170 new jobs.
of the cities. These results were similar to those of a separate independent study conducted by the Government Finance
Officers Association’s research center which found that property values in historic districts in Galveston Texas and
Fredericksburg Virginia grew 1.5 to 3 times faster than comparable areas not in historic districts.
compare almost any neighborhood or commercial area that has embraced historic preservation with those that have not.
Historic preservation and economic development represent an effective partnership – as a growing number of
communities and businesses have come to realize.