Preservation Rightsizing Network

Legacy Cities + Historic Places

No, Newark is not the next Brooklyn

By Anne Schaper Englot

In Newark we’re getting tired of hearing hyped-up comparisons to Brooklyn, but that doesn’t seem to stop anyone. In 2015 Politico ran a story headlined “Is Newark the next Brooklyn?” The piece was rebutted by Dr. Roland Anglin, a Brooklyn native with 20+ years of work in Newark who formerly helmed Rutgers University – Newark’s Joseph Cornwall Center for Metropolitan Studies. Anglin published his response—spoiler alert: Newark is not the next Brooklyn, nor do we aspire to be—in The Conversation. That should have put the issue to rest.

But speculation continued, with the question next being picked up by the New York Times in 2016. That time, it was refuted by Newark’s Deputy Mayor Baye Adofo-Wilson: “Newark’s not trying to be the next Brooklyn, or the next Jersey City… We have our own richness and our own culture here that isn’t just an expansion of Wall Street, but really an expansion of Newark and an expansion of New Jersey.”

Things were quiet for a while, but then the New York Post added to fuel to the fire when it quoted New Jersey Performing Arts Center CEO John Schreiber. Schreiber compared the transformation of Fort Greene around the Brooklyn Academy of Music with downtown Newark’s “culturally conscious” development. Yet he also emphatically countered the article’s premise: “Newark is not Brooklyn…Newark is Newark.”

He echoed the refrain we’ve heard again and again from Newark native, Mayor Ras Baraka. “Newark is the next Newark,” Baraka stated and restated to an appreciative audience gathered to hear the Mayor’s State of the City address in May 2017. And yet, on the cover of Radius, a local glossy published by Newark area developer and booster, Paul Profeta, a headline shouts, “Newark Is the New Brooklyn.”

The Hahne’s Building

Cited in almost all these articles as evidence of Newark’s “Brooklynness” is the renovation of the Hahne & Company Department store. Everyone in Newark has a story about the Hahne’s building if they were here prior to the store’s closing in 1987. Whether they shopped there, worked there, or just passed through to stare at luxury goods beyond their reach, Hahne’s played a central role in the life of the city. If you were walking down the street with a Hahne’s shopping bag, you were stylin’.

When my family was first contemplating a move to Newark late in 2013, I drove down Broad Street, Newark’s main thoroughfare. Plywood and chain link surrounded the central park downtown. There was a two-block construction site across the street and the Hahne’s building was all boarded up—a white elephant—at the center of town. Nevertheless, we were assured that Newark was undergoing a renaissance. The first piece of evidence was the opening of Military Park—an expert $3 million reimagining by Dan Biederman Associates, the firm responsible for renovation and programing in Bryant Park.

Photo credit: Anne Schaper Englot

The Prudential Tower was next. Its sleek glass-clad façades and green design brought thousands of employees downtown in one fell swoop. The beautiful new office building was designed by Kohn Pederson Fox and a LEED Gold-accredited, state-of-the-art facility complete with a green wall and green roof. Prudential transferred over 3,000 employees from the suburbs to the building, which looks down on Military Park and mirrors its triumph.

Photo credit: Anne Schaper Englot

The final piece in the set is the Hahne’s building. L+M Development Partners undertook a $174 million redevelopment to transform it into a mixed-use building with retail, commercial, educational, and residential spaces. At its grand opening in January 2017, a record crowd assembled to celebrate the rebirth of a civic treasure. All doubts about Newark’s renaissance—which I learned had been touted in the local and national media periodically since 1987—were put to rest.

Opened in 1901 and designed by Goldwin Starrett (who was soon to be a premiere department store architect), the Hahne & Company store was the gold standard. It had four floors plus a basement of retail around the Grand Court, which was topped by a skylight that sent sun to every level. The store was at the heart of the city.

Photo credit: Anne Schaper Englot

Everyone in the city has a story about Hahne’s. Some stories reflect the institutionalized racial inequality that divided the city in the 1960s. One man told of being an elevator operator who took ladies’ furs to the fur vault after the winter months—yet he was not allowed to set foot on the all-white retail floor. Other memories were more hopeful, such as a professor’s story about winning a drawing contest as a young girl for her drawing of her mom, which was displayed in the store window on Mother’s Day.

When the store was closed in the late 1980s, it was a hole in the heart of Newark. When it became clear that the Hahne’s building would reopen, the city shed a 30-year chip from its shoulder.

Hahne’s Building: A Case Study in Partnerships

L+M are continuing to work to fill all the commercial spaces, but it is only a matter of time. PetCo, CityMD, a Marcus Samuelson restaurant, and a shared-work-hub are all committed future tenants. L+M started the project under former mayor (now U.S. Senator) Cory Booker, who is still a frequent visitor to the building. Booker helped secure the first anchor tenant, Whole Foods, by contacting the company constantly until it finally agreed Newark was “ready” for a store.

Photo credit: Anne Schaper Englot

Rutgers University – Newark was the second anchor tenant to sign on. An amazing synchronicity occurred with the arrival of new RU-N chancellor Nancy Cantor. Cantor is a national expert in creating anchor partnerships between universities and cities, and she saw an opportunity to invest in a linchpin project with other Newark anchors such as Prudential and Goldman Sachs. A RU-N faculty proposal to relocate their engaged scholarship and social art practice to a space in the downtown was quickly approved.

I became involved in the development of this space in the roughly 500,000 square foot Hahne’s building because of my background in architecture, initially serving as a liaison between KSS architects and the faculty, and now serving as the co-director with Newark artist and long-time gallerist, Victor Davson. It is a 50,000 square foot, $25 million project we call Express Newark, as in “Express your amazing soul, Newark.” Express Newark is a university-community collaboratory where printmakers, video artists, a sculptor who has mastered 3-D imaging and printing, graphic designers, painters, photographers, and writers—many of them multimedia artists—work together on myriad projects.

Photo credit: Anthony Alvarez

All told, there are 28 local artists who are recognized community partners, 18 faculty members, and over 1,000 Rutgers students actively engaged in Express Newark. Roughly 150 Newark High School students take college prep and art workshops several Saturdays a month as part of a Kresge-funded program. At first, we worried about not marketing enough to the public, but now we’re trying to stem the tide of organizations and individuals who want to hold conferences, lectures, events, and more in the Express Newark space.

Photo credit: Halkin Mason Photography, courtesy of KSS Architects

Renaissance? Sure, but it’s Newark’s

L+M made so many decisions about the Hahne’s project that were about maintaining the integrity of the architecture and not about the bottom line. The best example is the Grand Court skylight, which had been painted and tarred over during WWII to prevent it from becoming a target for enemy planes. L+M painstakingly disassembled the skylight, sent it to Pennsylvania for sandblasting and restoration, and lovingly reinstalled it over the second story to recreate a modern version of the original Grand Court. The third and fourth floors of the court became a residential court with apartment windows and patios overlooking the skylight. I am such a believer that my husband and I were the first residential tenants: on February 1, we moved into an apartment that overlooks Military Park.

Photo credit: Anne Schaper Englot

Recently, we sat outside with some neighbors at Burg, a burger joint and beer garden in Military Park. The outdoor bar was packed with millennials, there were people jogging and walking dogs, a group was waiting to go on a tour of the city, and others had gathered to paint watercolors and play ping pong. It was a vibrant Newark scene—our own kind of renaissance.

Anne Schaper Englot is a Professor of Practice in Architecture & Humanities in Rutgers University-Newark’s Arts, Culture & Media Department and is the Co-Director of Express Newark: a University – Community Arts Collaboratory.


About this series

This is the first post in a series that will dig into preservation and the arts in legacy cities. The arts have the potential to underpin many of the strategies in the Action Agenda, especially thoughtful, creative community engagement.

Action item 2: Engage and listen to local communities

Preservationists must listen to local needs and priorities and develop new forms of community engagement informed by diverse communities and youth. Creative visualization of preservation’s potential—pop-up shops in vacant storefronts, art installations in empty houses, and collective daydreaming like artist Candy Chang’s “I wish this were” walls—can share important community stories, underscore the importance of place and community, and spur real action to revitalize both vernacular and high-style neighborhoods.

Legacy city preservation practice must hold local heritage and quality of life as significant as architecture. Intangible heritage and culture—the stories that make a community what it is—should be recognized and preserved through oral histories, community storytelling events, and in other ways. is is especially important when demolition is necessary and in neighborhoods that have been shaped by long-term disinvestment and systemic racism.

Arches: An Open Source Platform for Cultural Resource Inventories

By David Myers

The critical first step in protecting significant cultural resources is having baseline information on what and where they are, as well as their current status and potential uses. This information is essential for those involved in managing or trying to affect change in legacy cities and for urban revitalization. City and regional agencies play a crucial role in collecting and making available such baseline information through their cultural resource inventories (which are often added to and updated through historic resource surveys).

Inventories are a critical tool for making proactive, timely, and informed decisions, especially when high demolition and/or redevelopment pressures exist. They are most effective when city and regional agencies are able to harness modern information technologies that 1) offer widespread and easy access to key information and 2) allow records to be easily updated to reflect changing conditions. However, developing and maintaining effective digital inventory systems and sustaining related data is a costly and difficult undertaking that can be beyond the reach of many organizations and agencies.

In an environment of diminishing resources for heritage organizations and municipal governments, the Getty Conservation Institute and World Monuments Fund created the Arches Heritage Inventory and Management System, a modern enterprise-level open source software platform designed for use by heritage institutions around the world. Arches—web-based and geospatially enabled—is purpose-built for managing inventories of all types of heritage places, including buildings, structures, historic districts, archaeological sites, and cultural landscapes. As an open source platform, Arches is available at no cost and is customizable to meet organizations’ particular needs. Organizations may choose to provide unrestricted access to their Arches implementation and data or limit access. Arches is designed to be as intuitive as possible to allow authorized users to enter, edit, and search data with little technical training.

Arches is already being used by a wide range of heritage organizations internationally. Organizations that have deployed Arches in the U.S. include:

  • City of Los Angeles: The City of Los Angeles has implemented Arches as HistoricPlacesLA (, the official Los Angeles Historic Resources Inventory, as a tool to fulfill its obligations under federal, state, and local historic preservation laws; to provide input to its planning processes; and to make information publicly accessible.

Screenshot of HistoricPlacesLA showing clusters representing over 25,000 cultural resources identified to date by the City of Los Angeles. Credit: City of Los Angeles.


  • Queen Anne’s County, Maryland: Queen Anne’s County is implementing Arches to present and help preserve more than 300 years of its history of individuals, properties, and events that are significant to the nation, Maryland, and Queen Anne’s County. This Arches deployment is slated to go public later in 2017.
  • Cane River National Heritage Area: The Cane River National Heritage Area in Louisiana has implemented Arches as the Cane River Heritage Inventory and Map ( to manage information on cultural resources and to promote public knowledge, appreciation, and interest in them.

Screenshot of the Cane River Heritage Inventory and Map including integration of historic basemap. Credit: Cane River National Heritage Area.

  • Armed Forces Retirement Home: The Armed Forces Retirement Home, a 272-acre historic residential campus in Washington, DC, established in 1851 for military veterans and managed by a federal agency, is using Arches ( as a tool to inventory and manage its important cultural resources.

Other organizations around the world have implemented Arches, including as national inventories in Asia and the Caribbean. Implementations are now being prepared in the U.S. by the City and County of San Francisco and in the UK by Historic England for Greater London and by the City of Lincoln.

The Arches project is now finalizing development of version 4.0 of the platform, which includes numerous enhancements, such as tools for customization and configuration. Development is also now starting on an Arches online/offline mobile data collection app, which is planned for completion by the end of 2017.

To learn more, visit the Arches project website at

Using the location filter in Arches, resources that would be impacted by a proposed development project can be quickly identified. Credit: City of Los Angeles.

The Related Resources graph reveals relationships between Arches resources, in this instance between an architect and heritage resources as well as other persons related to those heritage resources (such as owners and occupants). Credit: Arches Project.

David Myers is Senior Project Specialist at the Getty Conservation Institute.


About this series

This is the final post in a series that has explored how others are using data to support, improve, and create good preservation practices. The Action Agenda prioritizes data collection and analysis to support key efforts of legacy city preservation:

Action Item 3: Use data to support and improve good practices.

Preservationists need data that goes beyond the facts of buildings, styles, and architects. Good data and layered multidisciplinary analysis can inform strategic decision-making on the ground, prioritize limited funds, support coalition-building with organizations in allied fields, direct preservationists in refining practices and tools in challenging legacy city contexts, and shape effective advocacy efforts. In particular, rigorous analysis should examine how reinvesting in older and historic buildings and neighborhoods compares to demolition with regard to social, economic, and environmental outcomes such as community stability, foreclosures, and property values.

GIS at the National Trust

By Reina Chano Murray

Historic preservation deals intrinsically with place: each of the historic resources we love can be marked to a location on our planet. As preservationists, we’re often concerned with 1) knowing exactly where these resources exist, and 2) not only preserving but understanding how they interact with or may be affected by their surroundings. This makes geographic information systems (GIS) a great resource for our field, since it allows us to create, manage, visualize, and analyze spatial data.

The National Trust’s foray into GIS began when its research division, the Preservation Green Lab (PGL), began working to make the case that older buildings contribute in significant, quantifiable ways to our lives. That successful effort resulted in the 2014 publication Older, Smaller, Better, which used big data and spatial analytics to find statistically significant links between blocks of older, smaller, mixed-age buildings, and various economic, social and demographic indicators. Since the 2014 study, the National Trust has worked to enhance the scope of its GIS work.

As the National Trust’s GIS project manager, my job is to provide GIS-related technical assistance to projects and demonstrate the applicability of GIS to historic preservation. We are also working to provide more GIS-related resources to the wider preservation community while creating best practices for working with GIS data in preservation.

A few examples of how we’ve used GIS recently to inform the preservation work of the National Trust and our partners:

Viewshed Renderings for Charleston, SC Harbor

A new terminal is being considered in Charleston, SC, which has the potential to significantly increase both the number and the size of cruise ships coming through Charleston’s harbor. I was asked to find a way to visually communicate the potential impact larger cruise ships would have on the historically significant viewsheds of Charleston’s historic district.

We used a combination of open source and proprietary GIS software (including SketchUp, Google Earth Pro, LASTools, and ArcGIS Desktop) to create a video that takes the viewer around to various vantage points in Charleston. In the video, superimposed 3D models of possible cruise ships in the harbor are shown, allowing us to visually demonstrate how these larger ships overshadow the height of the carefully preserved buildings in Charleston’s historic district. This video and the documentation it provided has resulted in the Army Corps of Engineers significantly increasing the area of potential effect (APE) of the new terminal, which affords us more opportunities to make sure the new terminal is developed responsibly in a way that limits its impact to this national historic landmark district.

<div style=”position:relative;height:0;padding-bottom:56.25%”><iframe src=”″ width=”640″ height=”360″ frameborder=”0″ style=”position:absolute;width:100%;height:100%;left:0″ allowfullscreen></iframe></div>


Atlas of Reurbanism

The Atlas of Reurbanism is PGL’s follow-up to Older, Smaller, Better. We’ve expanded on our initial analysis to offer baseline building and block information for 50 major cities across the country. We needed to create a methodology that would help us crunch a significant amount of data on this many cities in a timely fashion, and to create an interactive way for users to explore these datasets on their own.

Here too, we used a combination of open-source and proprietary GIS software such as PostgreSQL, PostGIS, ArcGIS for Server, and ArcGIS Online. In addition to a summary report released in November 2016, we are releasing city-specific fact sheets and web applications on a rolling basis.


In Progress

We have and will continue to add more examples of GIS-related work to our ArcGIS Online Organizational account, which you can check out at

Other things in the works include:

  • A partnership with University of Minnesota Media Lab and Esri (a leading GIS software provider) to put together a training platform called Earth Xplorers that teaches secondary school students about geography, GIS, and historic preservation.
  • Updated historic tax credit project maps for each state, congressional district, and certain cities to help advocates educate and lobby their representatives. These will  be completed in June.
  • Educational content in the form of webinars and blog posts to help historic preservationists to learn how to use GIS to not only analyze information and make informed decisions, but to also communicate widely about their work. The National Trust recently hosted our first GIS workshop on ArcGIS Online in February, and we are planning to release additional content over the coming months.
  • A tech track at our PastForward conference in November! Sign up for conference updates from the National Trust to get more details on this.

Reina Chano Murray is GIS project manager at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.


About this series

Follow along this month as we learn how others are using data to support, improve, and create good preservation practices. The Action Agenda prioritizes data collection and analysis to support key efforts of legacy city preservation:

Action Item 3: Use data to support and improve good practices.

Preservationists need data that goes beyond the facts of buildings, styles, and architects. Good data and layered multidisciplinary analysis can inform strategic decision-making on the ground, prioritize limited funds, support coalition-building with organizations in allied fields, direct preservationists in refining practices and tools in challenging legacy city contexts, and shape effective advocacy efforts. In particular, rigorous analysis should examine how reinvesting in older and historic buildings and neighborhoods compares to demolition with regard to social, economic, and environmental outcomes such as community stability, foreclosures, and property values.

The Democratization of GIS Technology

By Dan Watts

Geographic information systems (GIS) are an invaluable part of the practice of historic preservation. By harnessing the power of geospatial data, preservationists, planners, and community members can more effectively manage change, protect historic resources, and engage the public in efforts to create better communities.

GIS has long been a part of preservation planning and has been used extensively on everything from building surveys and inventories to the cataloging of architectural styles or building materials. But because of cost, use was traditionally limited to governments or organizations with budgets large enough to purchase the necessary licenses and hardware. As a result, the full analytical power of GIS was often experienced only by a small group of experts, while the public saw static end results such as printed maps.

However, the last several years have produced a wealth of easily available open-source and technically robust GIS platforms that have transformed the ways in which the public experiences and interacts with GIS technology. If I had to pick one word to describe the transformation, it would be accessibility. This revolution in accessibility is probably best embodied in the potential of web GIS. Simply defined, web GIS is a combination of internet and GIS technology made widely accessible through a web browser interface.

Web GIS has vastly democratized access to GIS’s analytical power from virtually anywhere and with little or no cost to end users through web mapping applications. These applications often have the capability to make available many of the same analytical tools as desktop GIS, enabling users to examine data in new ways.

In 2016, the Washington DC Office of Planning released an interactive web application, HistoryQuest DC, which provides information on more than 120,000 buildings within the District of Columbia. The information is presented in an easily understood format and the application also contains analytical tools that enable users to query or sort the data behind scenes. Consider the alternative of sifting through a 120,000+ record database!

HistoryQuest DC, courtesy of the Washington DC Office of Planning

At the same time, web mapping applications are also challenging the traditional ways in which data is displayed and interacted with. In early 2017, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission launched a 3D web mapping application as part of a public outreach effort following the designation of a new historic district in upper Manhattan. The application allows users to freely navigate the 3D environment of the Morningside Heights neighborhood and in doing so gain a more complete and nuanced understanding of the buildings that make up the historic district and the context in which it’s located.

Morningside Heights Historic District Explorer, courtesy of the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission

I believe that, in many ways, we’re seeing the future of GIS unfolding in front of us. The democratization of geospatial technology almost certainly means that the future of GIS in preservation planning will be one of greater access to information as well as increasing access to tools, especially those that are open-source. This will enable an ever-larger group of people to work with data in the geospatial environment. The case studies referenced above are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of how GIS accessibility will affect preservation planning and I look forward to innovations to come.

Dan Watts is a preservationist and data aficionado and works as a GIS Administrator at the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.

About this series

Follow along this month as we learn how others are using data to support, improve, and create good preservation practices. The Action Agenda prioritizes data collection and analysis to support key efforts of legacy city preservation:

Action Item 3: Use data to support and improve good practices.

Preservationists need data that goes beyond the facts of buildings, styles, and architects. Good data and layered multidisciplinary analysis can inform strategic decision-making on the ground, prioritize limited funds, support coalition-building with organizations in allied fields, direct preservationists in refining practices and tools in challenging legacy city contexts, and shape effective advocacy efforts. In particular, rigorous analysis should examine how reinvesting in older and historic buildings and neighborhoods compares to demolition with regard to social, economic, and environmental outcomes such as community stability, foreclosures, and property values.

Recap: Preservation Advocacy Week 2017

Missed Preservation Advocacy Week this year? Catch up with this recap from Julianne Patterson, Development & Events Coordinator at the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation and a member of PRN’s Communications Committee. As she writes, our work is far from done.

You can get more background on Preservation Advocacy Week from Preservation Action and our March 13 blog post.

By Julianne Patterson

The official “week” of storming Capitol Hill to advocate for historic preservation-
related policies has ended for this year, but I think we all know that advocacy is a 365-days-a-year endeavor. Our priorities for Advocacy Week 2017 and moving forward are: (1) asking for adequate funding of the core programs of the Historic Preservation Fund; (2) asking for support of the Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit; (3) and asking representatives to join the Historic Preservation Caucus. All remain relevant and urgent.

Historic Preservation Fund

Thanks to the NPS Centennial Act passed last December – which reauthorized the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) – we were able to get right to the appropriations request of $86M for FY18. We visited members of Congress on Capitol Hill the day before the president’s budget was released, so we ran into a lot of “…Let’s just see what things look like after tomorrow” responses. It was helpful to remind representatives that funding for the HPF comes from offshore oil leases, and that the request really isn’t that big in the grand scheme of things.

The $86M request includes $50M to State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPOs), $13M to Tribal Historic Preservation Officers (THPOs), $13M for Civil Rights Initiative Competitive Grants, $5M for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and $5M for new grants to fund GIS and data management systems to document historic resources.

The request for funding to support new data management systems is a noteworthy step toward improving surveying efficiency and information accessibility. This small request is something my group (advocating for the state of Washington) highlighted. Increasing digital resources would greatly improve the Section 106 planning and review process, ultimately lightening the load on already overly busy SHPOs. It’s an exciting opportunity: government agencies, private firms, and nonprofit organizations are developing new tools every day to advance the preservation and planning fields. (PRN has upcoming blog posts featuring a few of these digital innovations, so stay tuned!)  

We discussed the administration’s infrastructure priorities and pointed out that dramatically increasing the number of public infrastructure projects without increasing the funding for SHPO staff would create a major burden within those offices – and potentially slow down critical repairs to roads, bridges, and more. HPF funding that will allow our SHPOs to proactively plan and prepare for this big wave of projects by utilizing digital resources to streamline and speed up the review process. This point hit home and resonated with every office we met with.

(Photo from

Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit

Advocating for the Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit (also called the Historic Tax Credit, or HTC) was met with more “let’s just see how things go” comments. It was clear there is a lot of uncertainty around what tax reform will look like, if it happens at all. Preservation Action did a great job prepping everyone the day before our Hill meetings by outlining a strategy that acknowledges the HTC will likely go away in the first draft; early blueprints of tax reform show it eliminated. Thus, our focus was requesting support for the credit once the tax code is opened up for discussion, with emphasis on its economic development and community revitalization impacts.

We also requested that representatives support the HTC Improvement Act (S. 425, H.R 1158), which increases the credit to 30% for projects under $3.75M, thereby making the benefits more accessible to smaller communities where the economic and revitalization impacts are needed most. We made sure to mention projects in each district (or the potential projects that could happen if the Improvement Act becomes law).

In addition to using examples of successful completed projects to illustrate the impact of the HTC program, our Washington delegation brought two current projects from Seattle that are in limbo because their financing is dependent on combining the Low Income Housing Tax Credits with the HTC to pencil out. In a city with seemingly limitless development potential in the midst of a housing crisis, investors and syndication funds are reluctant to take a chance on a tax credit project without assurance that the payout will be there. This is the very real reality of the state of uncertainty surrounding the HTC program and tax reform in general.

Historic Preservation Caucus

Finally, we always ask our representatives to join the Historic Preservation Caucus to stay involved in relevant policy issues as they relate to preservation. I don’t know much about the day-to-day business of the HP Caucus, but I imagine it as a big fun party where everyone dresses up as their favorite president and aggressively fights to have the most National Monuments in their district. I know it’s only like that in my dreams, but the good news is that preservation has advocates on both sides of the aisle – sometimes it just takes a different approach to highlight the priorities each person and party aligns with.

Resources for Action Now

As you can see, much is happening, with more work to be done (always!). Advocacy truly is an everyday, all-year project.

Here are three things you can do to follow up with the priority issues from Preservation Advocacy Week:

  1. Call your members of Congress (MOCs) in support of the HPF FY18 appropriation.
  2. Ask your MOCs to cosponsor the HTC Improvement Act (again, that’s S. 425, H.R 1158)
  3. Request that your MOCs join the HP Caucus, if they haven’t already.


Preservation Advocacy Week 2017: Get Involved

Welcome to Preservation Advocacy Week 2017! Even if you’re not reading this from Washington, DC, you can still make an impact. Here’s how:

  1. Pick up the phone. Call your Members of Congress to express your support for Historic Tax Credits and the Historic Tax Credit Improvement Act (HTCIA). If your Member is already cosponsoring the HTCIA, make sure to thank them; if not, ask if they will sign on as a cosponsor. Find your Representative here and your Senator here.

  2. Reach out. Use social media and local media to highlight HTC projects in your community and talk about their impacts on jobs, private investment, and neighborhood revitalization. The Novogradac Historic Tax Credit Mapping Tool is a terrific resource: it lists HTC projects by state and congressional district from 2001 to 2015.

  3. Talk to colleagues. Many people have a stake in the Historic Tax Credit: developers at all scales, affordable housing providers, community development organizations, and people who live or work in HTC-rehabbed buildings. Ask them to advocate for the HTC and HTC Improvement Act to counter the perception that it’s only wealthy developers who benefit.

  4. Show up. If your Member of Congress will be in your district April 10-21, see if you can schedule a meeting with him or her – and set up a visit to a HTC project, if possible!

A set of one-page briefs from Preservation Action can provide background to help with advocacy. PRN was pleased to partner with the Center for Community Progress and the Legacy Cities Partnership to produce three educational briefs for representatives from Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Illinois. If you live in one of those states, please download and use the brief when speaking with your legislator!

The National Trust held a webinar last Thursday, March 9, which is archived here (free access, requires sign-in). Speakers discussed ways to effectively reach representatives, including some inspiring case studies, and offered an update on current legislation.

Hello from the Rust Belt Coalition of Young Preservationists!

We’re so pleased to post this excellent introduction to the Rust Belt Coalition of Young Preservationists! Read on for more about what the RBC is and what it does – and be sure to check out its website, Facebook, and Instagram for news about upcoming Rust Belt Takeovers.

By Mike Panzitta

Hi Everyone! We’re the Rust Belt Coalition of Young Preservationists (we usually call ourselves the RBC for short), and we’re what happens when a bunch of preservation-minded groups with very different organizational structures who happen to all live within an incredibly vaguely-defined geographic area all get together and try to pool our strength, knowledge, and experience to foster historic preservation throughout the Rust Belt.

At the RBC meetup in Cincinnati. Photo credit: Pearl-Jean Mabe

We formed after a few of us who knew each other mostly through social media decided to get together, meet in person, and try to figure out how we can help support each other’s preservation efforts (even if it’s just having a shoulder to cry on…which, unsurprisingly, is something RBC does phenomenally well) and foster new young preservationist groups throughout our region, as the Rust Belt has many special preservation challenges (and opportunities) that we’ve found pervade the entirety of the area.

Touring the Richardson Olmsted Complex in Buffalo. Photo credit: Mike Panzitta

This instinct to meet up in person, share our stories, and get to know each other both personally and professionally has resulted in our signature event, our Rust Belt Takeovers. After originally a few of us planned to converge in centrally-located Pittsburgh for a weekend, we decided to open the invite to all of our organizations’ mailing lists and see who was interested. We were shocked when over 70 people registered and we realized that getting to see a new city from a preservationist’s perspective is an experience that apparently there was a huge pent-up demand for!

Albright United Methodist Church in Pittsburgh, threatened to be torn down for a drive-through Starbucks. Photo credit: Anna Lisa Keller

So we organized two days packed with neighborhood tours, preservation-specific exploration, and (of course) restaurants and bars, and because Pittsburgh preservationists were willing to host those who were visiting (and we got some amazing sponsors, including the National Trust for Historic Preservation) to give us some money), we were able to do it all for free!

From our city steps tour in Pittsburgh. Photo credit: Emily Pumm

It was such a success that we have held three more of these big events: Two more Takeovers in Buffalo and Cincinnati, and a one-day meetup (we called it a “Rust Belt Pop-up”) in Wheeling. And there’s more planned for 2017! (More on that later.)

Silo City in Buffalo. Photo Credit: Andrea Kern

In addition to learning firsthand about preservation successes, failures, and works in progress through our #RustBeltTakover (shameless Instagram plug there), we’ve been working to show the larger preservation community that young people have the capacity to organize, mobilize, and really make a difference in our cities and our neighborhoods without having to invest a fortune or have fancy-sounding credentials.

The Wheeling Suspension Bridge. From our Rust Belt Pop-up in Wheeling, WV. Photo credit: Mike Panzitta

We have been working on region-wide projects to tell everyone that we preservationists are out there, we care about our history, and we’re willing to work to preserve it. The latest one was our region-wide heart bombing initiative.

A heart bomb masterpiece in Columbus. Photo credit: Young Ohio Preservationists

On February 11, we coordinated our heart bomb events (which, incidentally, were invented in the Rust Belt city of Buffalo) to make a huge mark on the National Trust’s #IHeartSavingPlaces campaign.

Heart bombing in Cincinnati. Photo credit: Cincinnati Preservation Collective

Heart bomb 2017 in Indiana. Photo credit: Preserve Greater Indy

This year we are also doing a region-wide sale of this year’s hottest preservation-related product, the Tiny Jane Jacobs doll. After her introduction at the NTHP Conference in Houston, we found that a lot of people were interested in showing their love for Jane, so we plan to very soon roll out #TinyJaneJacobs (again, Instagram plug) dolls for purchase, with the proceeds going to help preservationists afford the costs of traveling to potentially expensive conferences.

Heart bombs aplenty in Rochester, NY. Photo credit: Young Urban Preservationists

So that’s just a quick overview, but there’s so much more to talk about! If you’re interested in learning more about what we’re up to check us out on Facebook, go to our website, or email us at And come to one of our upcoming events! We’ll be doing Rust Belt Takeovers in St. Louis, Rochester, and Detroit this year, and all are welcome!

Highlight: Policy Statement on Historic Preservation and Community Revitalization

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.

Statement from Progressive Historic Preservation Professionals on the Trump Election

The Preservation Rightsizing Network endorses this statement. It is a modified version of a statement authored by Max Page and Brad White on November 18, 2016.

The discussion around the progressive preservation movement continues. To learn more and get involved, visit the Progressive Preservation Network Facebook page or sign up for the email listserve by writing

We are preservationists because we believe that historic buildings and landscapes matter, that they anchor individual and communal connections to the past, they are the basis for telling the complete and often painful American story, they can be the building blocks of equitable economic development, they are central to any sustainable environmental future, and that they hold within them values that stand above and beyond the market.

We are pleased that our movement, which has long been accused – not without reason – of being elitist, the domain of the wealthy, little interested in the homes and neighborhoods of people of color, the disadvantaged, and the excluded, has begun a dramatic shift. Leading organizations have put their rhetoric and their resources toward expanding the movement to include preserving and interpreting sites central to the lives of racial, ethnic, religious, and LGBTQ communities, long victims of oppression in our society. We are proud that our movement has turned steadily in the direction of celebrating our diverse history, confronting our most violent pasts, and stands committed to building a more equitable and just society through the vehicle of old places.

If ever there was a moment to stand with our allies in the Latino community, the African-American community, the refugee and immigrant community, the disability community, the LGBTQ community – indeed, stand with the majority of Americans offended by the overt racism, bigotry, misogyny, and xenophobia of the Trump campaign and members of the new administration – that time is now.

Our call to preservationists is not based on Trump’s views on historic preservation narrowly construed.  We don’t care that he was involved in the restoration of the old Post Office in Washington, DC. We do not know what his specific preservation policies might be. What we do know is that the candidate, the campaign, and now his administration have deployed, in a calculated and relentless way, a hostility and intolerance toward the very groups our movement is hoping to include.

By making a statement condemning this hatred, we stand with the members of these communities and refuse to normalize Trump’s bigotry.  Despite his wishes, America is going to be a more gloriously diverse nation than it has ever been.  We want a preservation movement for that nation.

Our profession’s commitment to an equitable and inclusive preservation movement is receiving an important test.  We invite preservationists to choose this moment to stand, forcefully and openly, against the administration’s bigoted policies and for a truly inclusive preservation movement.

Recap: PRN in 2016

Recap: PRN in 2016

We’re pleased to present this quick recap of PRN’s activities last year. We’ve been busy! Many of you know this firsthand, from participating in our pilot project workshop in Detroit last fall, showing up to a PRN session at one of six national and statewide conferences, or attending the second national legacy city preservation conference in Detroit, which we supported.

Yet looking forward, we know that much remains to be done. PRN is committed to standing against hatred in all of its many forms, including xenophobia, racism, misogyny, and bigotry. We look forward to working with partner organizations and individuals to help revitalize legacy city neighborhoods to be more livable, equitable, and just. We will publish more soon on our stance on current events and developing federal policies.

In 2016, we began a campaign to seek funding to support paid staff. This remains one of our strongest ongoing efforts. We see becoming a staffed organization as a critical step for continuing our current momentum and activities in a way that’s sustainable, and we will continue to actively explore potential funding sources in 2017.

Year in review

January: At the start of 2016, we rested on our laurels – with an emphasis on rest – after our successful Action Agenda launch event in Newark, NJ, which drew more than 200 people to tour the Hahne & Co. Building and hear about the Action Agenda. Nearly 30 organizations participated in the launch as sponsors and supporters – a terrific beginning for the Action Agenda, which was developed through intensive collaboration and requires a highly collaborative approach to succeed.

FebruaryWe released the Legacy City Preservation video, in which national experts and local leaders talk about legacy city preservation and the Action Agenda. Haven’t watched it yet? Now’s your chance!

Later that month, Leadership Team members Emilie Evans, Nick Hamilton, and Cara Bertron, along with colleagues Aaron Bartley (with PUSH Buffalo) and Prashant Singh (then with LocalData), led a half-day workshop at the New Partners for Smart Growth Conference. Participants collected data in downtown Portland, OR, then discussed how to use similar data to inform community-based revitalization.

April: Emilie Evans, PRN volunteer Maggie Smith (also with Page & Turnbull), and Cara Bertron spoke at the California Preservation Forum on addressing vacant and abandoned buildings.

Later that month, Cara Bertron spoke about PRN and legacy city preservation at the RevitalizeWA conference in Chelan, WA.

May: PRN co-organized a Livable Cities Research Forum with the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Washington, DC. The forum convened 25 policy and thought leaders from across the country to discuss research priorities around the role of older buildings in shaping successful cities. This effort relates to the Action Agenda’s third action item: Use data to support and improve good practices.

The same month, the Action Agenda was featured in a national webinar in partnership with the National Trust’s Preservation Leadership Forum.

June: Nick Hamilton and Cristina Garmendia (then with Isles, Inc.) spoke about implementing the Action Agenda at the New Jersey History & Historic Preservation Conference.

September: We played a substantial role in supporting the Neighborhoods in America’s Legacy Cities Conference in Detroit, which brought together 250 people to share ideas and discuss pressing issues.

The same week, we kicked off our first Action Agenda pilot project with the Live6 Alliance. The pilot, Putting Stories to Work, looks at how community stories can catalyze equitable neighborhood reinvestment and speaks to the Action Agenda’s second action item: Engage and listen to local communities. Our first major activity was a workshop that brought together Detroiters – including a large cohort of Northwest Detroit residents – and national experts to tour the Live6 neighborhood and talk about how to collect and use local stories for real community impacts.

November: We presented a power session on the Action Agenda at the PastForward conference in Houston.

The same month, the Advisory Council for Historic Preservation released its Policy Statement on Historic Preservation and Community Revitalization. PRN served as part of an informal working group on the policy statement throughout the year.


In the past year, Melissa Jest stepped down from our Leadership Team and Anne Englot came on board. We are grateful to Melissa for her wisdom and commitment to legacy cities and community-building. We are also excited to have Anne on our team! A professor at Rutgers University-Newark, Anne brings deep experience in university-community initiatives, including the just-opened Express Newark arts incubator. Meet all our Leadership Team members here.

Cara Bertron is the Director of the Preservation Rightsizing Network.

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