Taking a moment to review

Monday night’s forum will be taken up with the mechanics of the local historic district ordinance.       There will be discussion on the ordinance, the guidelines, the procedures and how this integrates with the rest of the City.        Tricky questions of street-view and other shadowy concepts that may lead to confusion will be covered.        I mean, these people are the professionals and they know the ins and outs of the ordinance.     Let’s mine their deep knowledge!

What won’t be covered Monday night is the justification for the local historic district ordinance except perhaps rather lightly, nor objections to the local historic district ordinance.         If anyone wants to waste these guests valuable time with such nonsense, they need to be shown the back door, the one with the ‘exit sign’ over it.

So, to be expedient: I have listed the following benefits and reasons for the local historic district.        This is, of course, for those not yet educated in the pluses of the ordinance.         With 2300 and growing in the nation and hundreds of them in New England; not only do LHD’s do good things – there are tons of well-documented facts to support those good things*.

“With reasonable men, I will reason; with humane men I will plead; but to tyrants I will give no quarter, nor waste arguments where they will certainly be lost.”

William Lloyd Garrison


The Benefits of a Local Historic District

By the establishment of an LHD, a community recognizes the importance of its architectural heritage.


Affordable/Mixed Housing

Historic districts create a resource for affordable housing in Newburyport.  When Newburyport’s historic homes – large and small – are renovated, many are subdivided to accommodate multiple condominium units, and potential affordable housing.     And in stable communities, the quality of affordable housing is enhanced as owners seek safe neighborhoods and stable mixed-income levels.

High, Stable Property Values

When Local Historic Districts are established, there is typically a 21% to 26% increase in property values and the increases occur 1.5 times faster than in non-historic communities.  The New York City Independent  Budget  Office found on sales of one-, two-, and three-family houses from 1975 through 2002; prices of houses in historic districts are higher than those of similar houses outside historic districts.

Wider influence in Property Values

Even properties adjacent to the LHD tend to sell better and at a more competitive price than homes not near an historic district.

Better Resale Value

Real Estate agents can reap benefits because properties in historic districts sell faster and tend to sustain market value.  

Secure Investment

By the establishment of an LHD, the community recognizes that without this local commitment, its architectural integrity is increasingly vulnerable to inappropriate alterations and demolitions, and eventually the historic essence of Newburyport could disappear.  “Preservation ordinance helps homeowners protect their investment by preserving the historic character of their neighborhoods.” – Bob Vila

More Stable Community

Contrary to popularly held beliefs, new construction generates four times its cost in public service funding, forcing many municipalities to raise taxes.    Restoring property reduces the tax burden on the citizens and helps the City keep control of its budget.   

Environmentally Safe

As more homes are restored and preserved rather than gutted, torn down, and reconstructed, the impact on city services and local landfills is reduced. Thus historic preservation creates benefits locally– through less demands and pressures on the environment.


Developers working with the design review board of the local Historic District Commission have a clearer idea of site requirements, making the permitting process easier.      Further, it is less costly for developers to restore a home than to tear it down and build new.   Rehabilitation can be 3% to 16% less expensive than teardowns.  The developer saves money and receives a quicker return on investments because the historic preservation helps sell the home.  

More Equity

A more rapid increase in property value creates home equity that creates the financial resources for home improvements, which further increases property values.

More Local Construction Jobs

Renovations and restorations provide a resource by which local contractors, craftsmen and skilled labor can rely on, and a steady economic base by high equity and secure local loans from banks and financial resources.     Large new construction tends to bring in pre-fab construction and outside-the-community skilled labor.

More Visitors (Heritage Tourism)

Visitors to historic sites and historic cultural attractions are found to stay 4.7 nights longer and spend 78% more than the typical vacationer.    Heritage tourism can create new jobs, new businesses, higher property values, an enhanced quality of life, and community pride.  Locally made products increase in value when tied to heritage tourism. But the biggest benefit has been the diversification of a local economy and preservation of a community’s unique character.


“Preservation ordinance[LHD] helps homeowners protect their investment by preserving the historic character of their neighborhoods.”

                                                                        -Bob Vila

-P. Preservationist

* I don’t want to bore the reader – send to p.preservationist@live.com a request for the documentation and I will send it    – This will be the bibliography and also a list of sources enough to keep you busy for a long time. (Unless you’re a speed reader, of course.)

This entry was posted in Health and wellness, History, Local Historic Districts (LHD), Quality of Life, Real Estate, Zoning. Bookmark the permalink.

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