David Brown, Chief Preservation Officer of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, writes about the use of Historic Preservation in community revitalization. His article focuses on Detroit, as America’s new community development test kitchen. The Detroit neighborhood, Jefferson- Chalmers, recently earned a “National Treasure” distinction, which Brown speaks to a bit more here. It’s a great read and worth getting into if you live in a neighborhood with history (I bet you do).
Brown points out that the challenges faced by Detroit are not unfamiliar to many other cities across America. A key to Detroit’s revitalization though, is the recognition of the value of it’s historic urban neighborhoods. Detroit is reinvesting and reusing existing space.
“Preservation is an essential element in vibrant and creative neighborhoods that spur economic growth- and can work to benefit all people in the community.”
Brown notes something that we are often caught saying until we’re blue in the face: bigger isn’t always better for communities. His expert experience has shown that “established neighborhoods with a mix of older, smaller buildings deliver greater value than districts with larger, newer structures when tested against a range of desired social, economic, cultural and dnvironmeal metrics.