Rebuilding place in the urban space preservation notes may is national historic preservation month i electricity bill com


For decades, May has been designated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as Preservation Month. Many state, local, and federal organizations concerned with historic preservation often sponsor special events and activities during the month.

1. Federal historic preservation tax credit. In the federal tax "reform" bill, because the corporate tax rate was lowered significantly, it is no longer so advantageous for corporations to buy "federal historic preservation tax credits" to lower their taxes. And, the law was changed so that rather than take the credit all at once, its use has to be spread out over five years (" Historic preservation tax credit is saved, but weakened," Chicago Tribune).

In strong real estate markets, developers will still find it advantageous to rehabilitate and adaptively reuse such buildings, because they are attractive and popular with potential residents and corporate tenants seeking younger demographics as residents and employees.

But the tax credit can make a big difference in weak real estate markets, where the higher cost of rehabilitating a building to historic standards isn’t necessarily "penciled out" in higher values. The federal historic preservation tax credit has been a great means of fostering successful projects with buildings that would otherwise be very hard to improve.

2. Restoring a theatre marquee in Saginaw, Michigan. Signs of the Times, a trade magazine for the sign industry, has a nice piece on the restoration of the marquee and signage of the Temple Theatre," MARQUEE DE MOD: Contemporary materials, design and teamwork rejuvenate the Temple Theatre."

3. Train station design. Recently I came across some architectural and design history tomes on railroad stations. I kick myself for not looking for such volumes earlier. Passenger Stations and Terminals by John Droege dates to 1916 and The Railroad Station: An Architectural History by Carroll Meeks was first published in the 1950s. Droege also wrote about freight terminals and train yards.

4. Architectural salvage. There is an interesting article, " Recycling Boston’s architectural history one piece at a time," in the Boston Globe about a salvage firm in the Boston region, Restoration Resources, and how the idea of architectural salvage came out of urban renewal and the mass demolition of what we would now call historic buildings. The story discusses how the founder of the business would go scavenging on urban renewal demolition sites.

5. Chair of NYC Landmarks Preservation Committee resigned in April, after being criticized for a rule change which would have eliminated requirements for public review of proposed changes to designated properties (" Meenakshi Srinivasan resigns as head of Landmarks Preservation Commission" Times Ledger).

6. Churches eligible or not for government grants for historic restoration? The US has laws against the involvement of government in religion and church matters. One interpretation of this has been that government funding cannot be provided to churches for anything, even if the action does not involve religion. This has come up with grants for playgrounds–the Supreme Court ruled that grants can be made available to churches so long as they are provided under an open, transparent, and general funding process.

This is an issue different from designation. Some places exempt churches from designation over church-state issues. Most places do not. In my experience, churches can do a lot of bad things when it comes to preservation, although the national organization, Partners for Sacred Places, exist to provide support.

7. The historic preservation commission in St. Paul aims to toughen its oversight of historic preservation (" Preserving St. Paul historic districts? Or overreach?," St. Paul Pioneer Press) although some quarters disagree with providing the HPC with more authority (" Former member fights Heritage Preservation").