EVENT: CT Trust for Historic Preservation Breakfast3/2/12

The Lyceum,Hartford,CT

TOPIC: Historic Preservation and Economic Development in CT


  • Helen Higgins, Executive Director of CT Trust for Historic Preservation
  • Donovan Rypkema, Principal of PlaceEconomics.


Agenda:  Mr. Rypkema discussed his findings from two recent state reports.

  • Connecticut Local Historic Districts and Property Values, prepared for the CT Trust for Historic Preservation with funds from the Department of Economic and Community Development
  • Investment inConnecticut: The Economic Benefit of Historic Preservation, prepared for the State Historic Preservation Office, Department of Economic and Community Development



  • Historic districts can be fundamental to the character of a place.  CT has lots of pre-1900 building stock that needs to be protected, and local historic districts are the instrument to provide such protection.
  • Historic preservation fuels sustainable development.  Definition of sustainable development: getting societal needs met without prejudicing the ability of future generations to get their needs met.  Rehabbing an historic building vs. razing it allows the embodied energy in that building to stand for the future, helping cities “reduce, reuse and recycle” and keep building materials out of landfills.
  • Historic preservation creates jobs, income and recirculated wealth in CT. Historic preservation activity leverages more direct and indirect jobs than tech or manufacturing. “Every $100 spent rehabbing an historic building means $84 in the pockets of CT workers.”  This is because historic preservation is highly labor intensive: 60-70% of the cost of every project is labor, not materials.
  • State and local governments benefit from historic preservation through: business income tax, property tax, sales tax and personal income tax. Biggest benefit to cities is PROPERTY TAX
  • Property values rise higher and faster in most local historic districts.  Pre-1900 houses in local historic districts are generally worth more than those not in such districts.  Demand for “antique” homes is rising fast; antique homes in historic districts are generally worth about $30,000 more than those not in such districts.
  • Density of historic preservation rehab projects tends to occur in highly walkable neighborhoods.  Walkability is a top desirable trait: 2/3 of house-seekers cite ability to do errands on foot as an important factor in what they are looking for.  Typically neighborhoods built half a century ago are more healthy to live in because they are more walkable.  See Smart Growth Amerca and Walkscore.com
  • Historic preservation projects benefit a broad range of human beings at various income levels – it’s not just for the wealthy.
  • Historic preservation projects advance all six of the CT Growth Management Principles.
  • There are fewer foreclosures in local historic districts.



Next Steps for Cities ~ Editorial Recommendations:


  • Apply the simple methodology delineated by the Trust study.  1) Measure changes in assessed value between last two assessment periods. 2) Compare change patterns in assessed value in downtown district compared to properties not in district. 3) Measure patterns of foreclosure in downtown district versus rest of the community.  4) Publish findings and make available to the public and the CT Trust for Historic Preservation.


  • Improve your city’s walkability scoring (walkscore.com) and publicize the improvement.


  • Help citizens understand the importance of historic preservation, its relationship to job growth, and that the benefits aren’t just for the wealthy.



Upcoming events on similar topic(s):

  • March 9, 2012, Lyceum inHartford, Complete Streets Workshop