THE ECONOMIC POWER OF RESTORATION
The following was delivered by Donovan D. Rypkema, January 15, 2001, at the Restoration &
Renovation Conference, Washington, DC. Mr Rykema is a nationally known consultant on
historic preservation economics.
Historic preservation doesn't have a value - it has a multitude of values: aesthetic value, cultural
value, social and psychological value, political value, environmental value, educational value. In
the long term I believe each of those values is far more important than preservation's economic
value. Most of you at this conference can explain those other values far better than can I. Frankly
I don't know much about those values. What I do know a bit about is the economic value of
I am going to try to do three things today: first, identify and quantify a number of aspects of the
economic benefits of historic preservation; second, suggest where the challenges to the success
of historic preservation are likely to come from in the next decade; and third, propose five key
roles for historic preservation in this beginning of the 21st century.
These remarks are entitled The Economic Power of Preservation but I am going to define that
economic power broadly. Preservation can mean profits to developers, and homeowners, and
bankers, certainly. But also, I believe, it can generate profits for neighborhoods, community
activists, visitors, and the city at large.
So first to the economic benefits of historic preservation. We have identified a couple dozen of
them here in the U.S. I'm going to tell you about eight of them. And I'll begin with the impact of
simply rehabilitating an historic building. The Bureau of Economic Analysis has developed an
econometric model to measure the local impact of output from a variety of economic activities.
Five hundred twenty eight types of activities are evaluated and then consolidated into thirty-nine
industry groups. These range from coal mining to household services, from agricultural
production to retail trade. Using this data there ar