Preservation and Equity: Dualing or Dueling Concepts?

 

For decades preservation advocates have combated perceptions that historic designation lowers the value of privately-owned property and that rehabilitation of historic buildings is an unprofitable endeavor. In truth, data from the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Research and Policy Lab, state and federal historic preservation incentive programs, and consulting firms like PlaceEconomics have quantified both the successful addition of value (equity) via the historic designation of properties, and the positive economic impacts of rehabilitations through increases in real estate values and corresponding increases in tax bases. These increases in value, however, are critiqued by many as placing pressure on low income residents. Tax increases, gentrification, a lack of affordable housing, and even displacement can all result from rising property values caused by preservation designation and rehabilitation.

 

Conscious of these challenges, in recent years the preservation movement has attempted to reposition itself as a tool for creating inclusivity and combating displacement in America’s cities. Proponents of this equity model of preservation tout its potential to save the spaces that tell the story of all Americans, thereby creating not just economic vibrancy in our communities but contributing intangible qualities to these assets. 

 

The question that begs to be asked is how do we reconcile these two models of preservation? Both models tout preservation’s  potential to build “equity,” but evoke two different definitions of the word. Do these models exist in contradiction to each other, or can they be complementary? What next steps can neighborhoods, civic organizations, the real estate community, and public officials take especially now and into 2021 as COVID-19 has upended so much of societal norms.

 

Moderator: Silvia Urrutia, UDeveloping LLC, Phoenix 

 

Panelists: 

  • Chris Cody, State Historic Preservation Office, Phoenix 

  • Joel Contreras, Developer, Phoenix 

  • Helen Erickson, The University of Arizona, Tucson 

  • Duffy Westheimer, Flagstaff Townsite Land Trust, Flagstaff 

Logistics 

  • Date: Wednesday, October 21, 2020

  • Time: 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

  • Place: Zoom (RSVP here)

Biographies 

Christopher Cody, Esq. is the Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer and holds a law degree from the University of South Carolina. Chris earned a Masters in Preservation Studies from Tulane University and Bachelors in History from the University of Wisconsin. Prior to serving as Arizona's Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer Chris was the Manager of Advocacy and Staff Attorney for Historic Charleston Foundation in Charleston, SC, and also taught Historic Preservation Law at the Charleston School of Law. He also serves on the Alumni Council of the Tulane School of Architecture and the Board of Directors of Preserve Phoenix. Chris is a 2020 recipient of the Harrison Goodall Preservation Fellowship through the National Park Service and Preservation Maryland.

 

Duffie Westheimer has lived in Flagstaff for 39 years and a number of other states and Spain. She always chooses to live in places with palpable history, or as she likes to say, "where the ghosts are." Duffie led the formation of Flagstaff's only historic residential district. She created the Townsite (neighborhood) Oral History Project, photo-documents the Townsite neighborhood, and directs the Flagstaff Townsite Historic Properties Community Land Trust (Townsite CLT). The Townsite CLT rehabilitates historic homes, making them cost at below market price from one owner to the next, essentially forever. Townsite CLT is designed to stabilize Flagstaff's historic neighborhoods by requiring owner-occupancy in Townsite CLT homes.

Chris Cody

Duffie Westheimer

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