The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) is an independent federal agency that advises the President and Congress on national historic preservation policy. The ACHP’s most recent policy statement tackles historic preservation and community revitalization in distressed communities, from rural areas to legacy cities. The Preservation Rightsizing Network participated in the development of this policy statement, along with other organizations and federal agencies, and is pleased to present this summary introduction.

By Charlene Dwin Vaughn

After years of research and study into the needs of communities across the U.S. that are struggling to revive their economies and historic assets, the ACHP issued a policy statement in November 2016. It is aimed at helping urban, suburban, rural, and tribal communities provide ideas and principles for successful community revitalization.

To incorporate historic preservation into revitalization efforts, and in light of current discussions about tax reform and infrastructure needs throughout the country, stakeholders are reminded that:

• tax credits and tax incentives can be used to promote historic preservation projects that preserve local assets;
• historic preservation should be incorporated in local planning efforts that focus on sustainability and smart growth;
• effective citizen engagement that reflects the diversity of the community can assist in identifying historic properties and cultural resources that should be considered for preservation and reuse; and
• flexibility in the treatment of some historic buildings in Section 106 reviews can help achieve broader neighborhood preservation goals.

The ACHP urges federal and local officials to use the principles in the policy statement to help communities going through significant neighborhood and commercial redevelopment. Also, the policy statement provides a framework for developing local partnerships to preserve the history and heritage of communities that are rapidly undergoing changes to accommodate 21st century modifications in technology, workforce development, global economies, and land use.

While these changes are all critical to developing sustainable communities, they should include historic properties that help provide a historical context in neighborhoods. Furthermore, they should acknowledge that historic preservation values are important to most communities, as they ensure cultural resources and assets are considered when preparing redevelopment plans for the future.

Read the full policy statement.

Charlene Dwin Vaughn works for the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation as the Assistant Director, Office of Federal Agency Programs.