UF Research: Historic Preservation a Boon to Florida

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Historic preservation helps bring an additional $4.2 billion a year to the Florida economy and more than 120,000 jobs a year to Sunshine State workers, according to a study being released today by researchers at the University of Florida Levin College of Law Center for Governmental Responsibility (CGR).

Commissioned by the Florida Department of State and conducted by staffs of CGR and the Center for Urban Policy Research at Rutgers University, the study is the first of its kind in Florida to research the impact of historical preservation.

“We examined the value of maintaining and renovating historic properties and sites amidst the pressures of new development,” said study authors Timothy McLendon and JoAnn Klein of CGR. They also took into consideration direct and indirect financial impact of activities such as rehabilitation of historic properties, heritage tourism, grants, tax incentives, museum operations and investment in Florida’s Main Street Program.

The one-year study was prepared with input from individuals and officials involved in historic preservation, and government and community leaders from cities, towns and villages in every region of the state.

The study “provides striking evidence Florida’s investment in the preservation and protection of historic places and the legacy of the cultures that created it, are paying huge dividends,” Florida Secretary of State Jim Smith states in the report.

Among key findings:

  • Historic preservation creates jobs. More than 123,000 were generated in the state from historic preservation activities during 2000, representing $2.7 billion in income to Floridians.

“The economist we worked with at Rutgers did some comparisons showing historical preservation is more efficient at bringing jobs to local communities than new construction would be,” McLendon said.

  • Historic preservation contributes to state and local taxes. Spending on historic preservation activities generated more than $657 million in state and local taxes in 2000.
  • Heritage tourism generates billions of dollars in local spending. More than $3.7 billion was spent in Florida by tourists who visited historic sites, including archeological sites, historic museums, state parks and locations designated in the National Register of Historic Places.

“This whole city is funded on tourism, and the tourism base is historic preservation,” said David
Birchim, city of St. Augustine senior planner quoted in the research. Key West, Pensacola, Mount Dora and Ybor City are among locales featured in the heritage tourism section.

Historic preservation maintains property values. An examination of assessed values of residential properties in historic and non historic districts in multiple Florida cities showed there was no case where historic preservation depressed property values.

Researchers found that in areas where historic homes are restored, property values are stable and in many cases appreciate in value much more quickly than comparable non historic areas.

“If you just give a little eye to detail, to historic preservation, you’ll get more money for it,” said John Jones, a Tampa real estate consultant quoted in the study.

Historic districts and comparison neighborhoods studied were located in Jacksonville, Gainesville, Ocala, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Lakeland, West Palm Beach and Lake Worth, with reviews of property appraiser information on more than 20,000 parcels in these cities.

“Historic preservation produces a wonderful return for the public money invested and is one of the most efficient ways public funds can be invested,” McLendon said.

“Historic preservation works,” he continued. “Florida has done a good job and has much to commend itself for. The program is very successful.”

For additional information:

UF Levin College of Law Center for Governmental Responsibility
– Timothy McLendon (352.392.2237) eMail: mclendon@law.ufl.edu
– JoAnn Klein (352.392.2237) eMail: klein@law.ufl.edu

For copies of the study:

Florida Department of State
– Bureau of Historic Preservation (850.245.6333)
Florida Trust for Historic Preservation (850.228.8128)

Published: October 2nd, 2002

Category: News

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