Economic Development & Preservation

Economic Development & Preservation

Preservation & Economics: What is the impact of historic preservation on economic development?

Creates Jobs

Many recent studies indicate that preservation has positive economic impacts on local job creation. In addition, reusing and retrofitting older buildings stimulates the local economy because labor and materials tends to be obtained locally. For example, a 2013 report commissioned by the Utah Heritage Foundation states 7,313 jobs were created annually directly or indirectly by the heritage portion of Utah’s tourism industry. In addition, between 1990 and 2012, nearly $300 million in private capital has been invested in historic buildings in Utah, creating 4,969 total jobs. In Colorado, since 1981 historic preservation projects have led to the creation of nearly 35,000 jobs, generating nearly $2.5 billion. For every $1 million invested to rehabilitate historic buildings in Colorado, 32 new jobs were created.

Maintains Neighborhood Character

Recently, a white paper for a special issue of the Journal of American Planning Association and a separate 2016 report for the New York Landmark Conservancy by PlaceEconomics looked at the impacts of historic preservation in New York City. The latter looked at the impact historic preservation has on the economy and vitality of New York by looking at metrics such as heritage tourism, demographics, population density of historic districts, the presence of small businesses and the rise of creative industries. It found, for example, that in boroughs outside Manhattan, historic districts with historically high minority populations maintained their racial makeup. The New York Landmark Conservancy report also found that historic districts are the densest neighborhoods. The JAPA paper focused on the impacts of a historic designation on the demographic composition of neighborhoods, and found there are small changes in socioeconomic status, but little evidence of changes in racial composition.

Attracts Investments

Rehabilitation of historic buildings has been found to attract new private investment to historic downtowns and has thus been critical maintaining the long-term economic health of many communities. According to a recent on the impact of historic preservation in Texas, every dollar invested in local communities from federal and state preservation incentive programs triggers $4 to $5 of private-sector investment. Since passage of the Federal Historic Tax Credit in 1978, Texas has benefited from $1.78 billion in private-sector investment in rehabilitation, the result being creation of more than 35,000 in-state jobs and the estimated addition of more than $2.4 billion to the state GDP.

Creates and Maintains Affordable Housing

According to a recent New York Historic Districts Council white paper on the relation between affordable housing and historic district designation, rent increase happen at a slower pace in historic district designation neighborhoods than in the rest of the city. The report also found that a higher percentage of subsidized rental units have been maintained over time within historic districts than in neighborhoods outside the districts. Lastly, the report emphasizes that 27% of new subsidized rental units were created in historic districts after designation.

Conserves Resources

In January 2012 the Preservation Green Lab, a project of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, released The Greenest Building: Quantifying the Environmental Value of Building Reuse, which found that in almost every case, the reuse of existing buildings results in fewer environmental impacts over their life spans compared to demolition and new construction. Conserving buildings prevents demolition waste from entering landfills and reduces sprawl by encouraging the revitalization of our existing communities. Further, historic buildings are often more energy efficient than more contemporary buildings due to careful siting choices and the use of passive heating and cooling systems.

The Economic Development Impact of Google Purchase of the Thompson Center for New Chicago Headquarters in the Heart of the Loop 

Thompson Center, luckily, shows up in Google’s search for office space, The sale bodes well for the Thompson Center, but also for a downtown that’s still staggering from the pandemic and needs all the help, energy — and new office workers — it can get, Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board, 7/27/22

Google to the rescue for the Loop; The company’s plan to occupy and eventually purchase a revamped Thompson Center is an inflection point in the Loop’s sluggish comeback from COVID-19, Danny Ecker, Crain’s Chicago Business, 7/27/22

Google’s plan to take over Thompson Center a shot in the arm for downtown Chicago and for Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Dan Petrella and Brian Rogal, Chicago Tribune, 7/27/22

Google to buy Thompson Center; Developer Mike Reschke’s company will renovate the building, John Pletz and Danny Ecker, Crain’s Chicago Business, 7/27/22

Google turns up big in Chicago’s search for a benefactor; In buying the Thompson Center, the search engine company is helping state and local governments answer some knotty questions. But will the partnership go a tiny bit further?, David Roeder, Chicago Sun-Times, 8/1/22


How the Google-Thompson Center deal came together: Crain’s Daily Gist podcast; Crain’s reporters Danny Ecker and John Pletz talk about how Google’s plan to occupy and eventually purchase the Thompson Center happened and what it could mean for the Loop, Crain’s Chicago Business, 8/2/22 (29:16 Interview)

Google to buy, renovate Chicago’s Thompson Center; The tech giant’s move into the glassy state office could bring thousands of jobs. But what will this mean for the historical legacy of the building?, Claire Hyman, Reset, WBEZ Chicago, 7/29/22 (13:42 Interview)

Google Buys Thompson Center, Will Preserve Much Loved, Loathed Loop Landmark, Heather Cherone, WTTW Chicago, 7/27/22 (7:26 Interview)

Google buys Thompson Center, Anna Roberts and Alyssa Donovan, WGN 9, 7/27/22 (2:45)

Google Is Buying The Thompson Center For $105 Million; The famed building will be sold to the tech giant, which will “entirely” redevelop the Thompson Center into an office suite for its workers, Gov. JB Pritzker said, Kelly Bauer, Block Club Chicago, 7/27/22

It’s Actually Good News That Google Bought the Thompson Center, Diana Budds, New York Curbed, 7/28/22

Google Will Call The Loop Home at Thompson Center, Chicago Loop Alliance, 7/27/22

Google to acquire iconic Chicago building in $105 million sale; The tech giant plans to occupy Chicago’s historic James R. Thompson Center as soon as 2026, Dave Byrnes, 7/27/22

Google will buy the Thompson Center; The Prime Group will pay $105 million to then renovate and sell it to Google, Lukas Kugler, Urbanize Chicago, 7/29/22

Google Confirms $105M Purchase Of Thompson Center, Bee Rickets, Chicago Yimby, 7/28/22

Google in Talks To Buy Chicago’s Thompson Center; Deal Could Revive Part of Downtown That Has Lagged Behind Other Neighborhoods, Ryan Ori, CoStar News, 6/28/22

Google may be Googling the Thompson Center; The search engine company says it is growing in Chicago, but it won’t speak directly to a report of its interest in the former state government hub in the Loop, David Roeder, Chicago Sun-Times, 6/29/22