Report: Historic preservation leads to $224 million in private investments over last decade

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 647 views 

Historic preservation in Arkansas has been a significant economic engine, according to a report commissioned by the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program (AHPP).

Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism Secretary Stacy Hurst said Monday (Oct. 26) the report demonstrates how vital historic preservation is to the state’s economy by noting that in the last decade the Arkansas Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit has attracted nearly $224 million in private investment for the rehabilitation of historic properties.

“As good stewards of taxpayer dollars, it is important for Arkansas Heritage to measure the impact of historic preservation in our state,” Hurst said. “The survey done by PlaceEconomics clearly demonstrates that Arkansas’s investment in preserving our built history and using it as a tool for community revitalization is a model for the nation. Our practices have created heritage tourism opportunities, real jobs, economic gains and improved quality of life in Arkansas communities, large and small.”

AHPP recently commissioned the report by PlaceEconomics, a Washington, D.C.-based real estate and economic development-consulting firm, to determine the economic impact of historic preservation. The report looked at different but overlapping programs within the AHPP: Main Street Arkansas, the Arkansas Historic Rehabilitation Income Tax Credit and Arkansas Historic Preservation Program’s grants.

The full report can be downloaded at this link.

In the last decade, the Arkansas Historic Rehabilitation Income Tax Credit provided funding to help in the rehabilitation of more than 320 buildings in 24 cities, the report found. Courthouse restoration grants have been utilized in 64 counties, preserving many buildings which would be costly to duplicate in modern times.

An estimated 74 of Arkansas’ 75 counties have benefitted from funding. More than 2,400 grants have been given out by AHPP since 1979.

Main Street communities have invested over $377 million in buildings, infrastructure and public improvements, 78% of which has come from the private sector and created more than 3,900 jobs since Main Street Arkansas’ inception in 1984.

Main Street Arkansas is a leading advocate for downtown revitalization providing resources, education and professional assistance to spark life in Arkansas’s downtowns. The Arkansas Historic Rehabilitation Income Tax Credit became state law in 2009 and allows Arkansans to claim a portion of their qualified historic property investment as a credit on their state income taxes.

“It’s truly impressive visiting one of our Main Street communities and seeing where the various programs have overlapped,” said Jimmy Bryant, director of the Division of Arkansas Heritage.

The report showcases examples in the cities of Batesville, Conway, El Dorado, Fort Smith, Helena, Hot Springs, Little Rock and North Little Rock.

“These examples highlight the impact we have on individual communities, businesses and families,” Bryant said. “Take for example Three Fold Noodles and Dumpling Co. in downtown Little Rock. This Main Street business invested over a million dollars in renovations using the state historic tax credit and used a Main Street grant to build an outdoor patio area. It’s collaborations like these that make us proud.”