Preservation's lucrative side


Benefits: Historic districts bring higher property values, jobs and cash, study says.

August 26, 1999|By Edward Gunts | Edward Gunts,SUN STAFF

HISTORIC DISTRICTS in Maryland have created $40.3 million in wages and 1,600 jobs over the past 20 years, and they have higher property values than nonhistoric districts, according to a study commissioned by the Maryland Association of Historic Districts.

The study, titled "Economic and Fiscal Impact of Local Historic Districts in Maryland," examined public investment, private investment, property values and tourism over a 20-year period in six jurisdictions: Annapolis, Berlin, Chestertown, Frederick, Laurel and Baltimore's Mount Vernon area.

"This study shows that historic districts have a tremendous positive impact on their communities' economies," said Donald Kann, head of the architectural firm of Kann & Associates in Baltimore and president of the Maryland Association of Historic Districts. Kann added that he hopes the study "will reinforce the importance of historic preservation as an economic tool."

Among its findings:

Public sector investment (including federal, state and local funds) has had a major impact on historic districts, with more than $208 million spent during the study period.

Private sector investment exceeded $24 million a year and created more than 400 jobs. The private investment ranged from an average of $667 per property per year in Frederick to $6,463 per property per year in Mount Vernon. Private sector investment "has been the moving force behind ongoing improvements to the neighborhood" and is "typically higher within the historic district than in the rest of the jurisdiction," the study noted.

Property values in the historic districts have on average appreciated 28.9 percent more than properties in the same jurisdictions outside the historic districts. In Laurel, for example, the average appreciation in the jurisdiction was 6 percent, while in the historic district it was 11 percent. In Chestertown it was even more striking, with historic district property appreciation at 26.8 percent compared with an appreciation rate of 15.4 percent for properties outside the historic district.

Tourism activity in the six districts drew more than 3.41 million visitors who spent $54.25 million and created 799 jobs that generated $14.2 million in wages.

Formed in 1981, the Maryland association helps local commissions and governments by providing training, assistance and information about historic preservation. The economic study was prepared by the real estate consulting firm of Lipman Frizzell & Mitchell, with funding from the Maryland Historical Trust.

Copies of the executive summary are available for $5 by writing to the Maryland Association of Historic District Commissions, P.O. Box 783, Frederick 21705. A copy of the full study, detailing findings in each jurisdiction, costs $25.

Local authors will sign `The Baltimore Rowhouse'

Local authors Mary Ellen Hayward and Charles Belfoure will sign copies of their new book, "The Baltimore Rowhouse," during a reception from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 2. at AIA Gallery, 11 1/2 W. Chase St.

The reception also marks the opening of two exhibits at AIA Gallery and Bookstore: A collection of lithographs, paintings and photographs by Chris Mona and a design exhibit titled "Living in the Stair."

Two-day conference studies Baltimore's landscape

"People and Places in Time: Baltimore's Changing Landscape" is the title of a two-day history conference that is scheduled to be held Sept. 24 and 25 at University of Baltimore's Thumel Business Center, North Charles Street and Mount Royal Avenue.

The conference will showcase research that examines how changes in the city's landscapes can help urban planning.

Organized by the University of Baltimore in cooperation with Baltimore Heritage Inc., the Baltimore History Alliance, Baltimore's Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation, Coppin State College and others, the conference will explore many aspects of the human experience in the Baltimore area.

Before Sept. 8, registration costs $25 ($10 for students and seniors). After Sept. 8, registration costs $35 (or $15 for students and seniors). Information: 410-837-5340.

Pub Date: 8/26/99

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