Twelve good reasons to rehabilitate historic buildings

1 Rehab Costs Are Roughly the Same as Building New

• If no demolition is required, a major rehabilitation will cost between 12% less and 9% morethan new construction.

• If constructing a new building requires demolition of a significant existing structure, the costsavings from rehabilitation will be between 3% and 16%.

• Life spans for new buildings are often 30-40 years vs. more than 100 years for most historic structures.

2 Creates Jobs

• In a typical rehabilitation project, 60% to 70% of the total cost is labor.

• Laborers are almost always hired locally. They, in turn, spend their money locally, supporting the local economy.

• A California study found that rehabilitation resulted in 10% greater wholesale purchases and 43% greater retail purchases from suppliers than the same amount spent on new construction activity.

• $1M spent on building rehabilitation creates:

• 12 more jobs than $lM spent on manufacturing in Michigan

• 20 more jobs than $lM spent mining coal in West Virginia

• 29 more jobs than $lM spentpumping oil in Oklahoma

• 22 more jobs than $lM spent cutting timber in Oregon

3 Increases Property Values

• In a study of National Register districts in Philadelphia, homes in historic districts received a sales price premium of 131% over comparable properties in undesignated neighborhoods.

• A study of nine Texas cities found that local designation increased property values from between 5% and 20%

4 Conserves Resources

• Approximately 25% of the material being added to the landfi lls is demolition and construction waste.

• Demolishing one typical two story commercial building on Main Street eliminates all of the environmental benefits of recycling 1,344,000 aluminum cans.

• Historic buildings contain signifi cant embodied energy. That’s the amount of energy associatedwith extracting, processing, manufacturing, transporting and assembling building materials.

5 Uses Existing Public Investments

• Every community has signifi- cant investments in public infrastructure, including roads, sewers, parks and schools.

• Historic preservation directs development to places where infrastructure is already in place.

• Rehabbing historic schools instead of building new saves money for education and often creates a better learning environment

.6 Supports Small Business

• 75% of all net new jobs in the U.S. are created by small businesses.

• Older buildings make ideal locations for small, independent businesses and for start-ups.

• 60 cents of every dollar spent at independent businesses remains in the local economy vs. less than 10 cents at national discounters.

7 Revitalizes Main Street

Since 1980, local Main Street programs have:

• Stimulated $48.9 billion in total private and public investment.

• Created 94,176 net new businesses.

• Generated 417,919 net new jobs.

• Generated a reinvestment ratio of $27 to $1 per community.*

• The average number of dollars generated in each community for every dollar used to operate the local Main Street Program.

8 Attracts Investment

“In economics, it is the differentiated product that commands a high premium.

If in the long run we want to attract capital, to attract investment in our communities, we must differentiate them from anywhere else. n

-Donovan Rypkema

9 Attracts Visitors

• 78% of U.S. leisure travelers (118 million adults) participate in cultural and/ or heritage activitieswhen traveling.

• Cultural heritage travelers spend, on average, $994 per trip compared to $611 for all U.S. travelers.

• Cultural/heritage travelers took an average of 5 trips in 2008-2009 compared with slightly less than 4 trips for non-cultural/heritage travelers

.10 Prevents Sprawl

• Saving historic buildings and keeping our towns and cit ies healthy reduces the pressure to pave the countryside.

• In 1970, the state of Maine spent $8.7M to bus students to and from school. By 1995, with fewer students enrolled, the cost had risen to $54M.

• When we reinvest in older neighborhoods, we are reinvesting in inherently sustainable communities that are generally dense, walkable, transit-accessible, and feature mixed-uses.

11 Creates Affordable Housing

• To replace the current housing units occupied by lower income res idents would cost $335 billion.

• In 2005, 1,101 unites of affordable housing were created in historic buildings using the federal rehabilitation tax credits.

• Historic structures are often located close to services and public transportation, reducing transportation costs for residents.

12 Is Good Economic Development

• In Nebraska, historic preservation generates $170 million per year:

• Between 2001 and 2005, an estimated total of $1.5 billion was spent on rehabilitation of buildings.

• Twenty-two jobs are created for every $1M spent on historic preservation, which supported

3,869 jobs in the state in 2009.

• Historic designation of neighborhoods and downtowns enhances and protects property values. Of the districts studied, property values as a whole showed increases in historic districts.


Lahr, Michael L., David Listokin, et al. Economic Impacts for Historic Preservation in Nebraska. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Center for Urban Policy Research, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, October 2007.

Mandala Research, LLC. ‘’The Cultural and Heritage Travelers Study.” 2009.

Rypkema, Donovan D. The Economics of Historic Preservation: A Community Leader’s Guide. Washington, D.C.: National Trust for

Historic Preservation, 1994.

__. 2005. “Economics, Sustainability, and Historic Preservation.” Speech presented at the National Preservation Conference,

Portland. Oreaon. October 1. 2005.

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