Author Archive

Soft Economy Creates Hard Challenges for Some Communities

Posted on: December 12th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

In November, the National Trust Main Street Center took the pulse of communities to gauge the economic health of commercial districts throughout the nation. We asked how the downturn of the national economy is affecting Main Street and what, if anything, is being done to counter negative impacts.

First, the good news. In a survey of 261 individuals in Main Street communities, 21 percent have not seen any significant business closures, reduction in sales, or stoppage of major development projects; seven percent even reported a thriving business district. On the other end of the spectrum, however, 33 percent of the survey respondents reported lower sales than this time last year, 27 percent have seen new and current development projects stall, and 24 percent have seen one or more businesses close.

While many survey participants have felt insulated from the nose dive in the stock market, they aren’t confident that their good fortune will last. The National Trust Main Street Center is compiling tips and resources for retailers and economic development organizations -- check back on Wednesday to take a look at this valuable information.

And in the meantime, when you're doing your holiday shopping, think local. Click here to find the closest Main Street district to you, or visit www.shopmainstreet.org to find specific Main Street retailers, whether you're heading down the block or shopping from the comfort of your living room. (Yes, Main Streets are in cyberspace.)

-- Andrea Dono

Andrea Dono is Associate Editor for the National Trust Main Street Center.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

Newsweek Learns that Preservation is Green

Posted on: December 5th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 1 Comment

 

Newsweek magazine recently published a letter from our Local Partner the Landmark Society of Western New York defending the case for sustainability when paired with responsible preservation practices. The letter was in response to an earlier Newsweek article, The Bad News About Green Architecture by Cathleen McGuigan, which focused on the negative impacts of the growing "fad" of building new sustainable buildings, but failed to identify the benefits of adaptive reuse to the sustainability movement.

"Our goal was to hopefully offer an alternative perspective (to which some people likely hadn’t been previously exposed) as they consider the issues of 'green building/construction' raised in the article," said Director of Marketing, Laura Zavala. The Landmark Society initially commented on the Newsweek article on their blog, but thought it important to voice their opinion on the article to the editors of Newsweek, as well. "Although they edited our letter for length, they successfully preserved the main points we were attempting to communicate. As we look for alternatives and focus on sustainable living as a nation, our talking points will have hopefully resonated strongly enough to stick with some folks."

And they did so quite well. In less than 500 words, the Landmark Society was able to put front and center in a reader’s mind the fact that new construction -- no matter how green or cutting edge -- uses new resources and energy, and creates waste. As we continue to make the case for preservation in sustainable development, we must all take every opportunity to impart this simple fact: preservation has been, and always will be, green.

-- Hannah Smith

Hannah Smith is the program assistant for the Statewide & Local Partners office at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

BREAKING NEWS: Charity Hospital Announcement

Posted on: November 25th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 3 Comments

 

BREAKING NEWS: On November 25th, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Louisiana State University announced the selection of the Mid-City neighborhood for the site of their new hospitals. The new hospitals would needlessly destroy the historic neighborhood around Charity Hospital where residents have been rebuilding and restoring their community since Hurricane Katrina.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation views this decision as a serious error, as better alternatives that would save the neighborhood around the hospital are available.

"In selecting these sites, the VA and LSU have made a serious error. They chose the alternatives that will not only be the most time-consuming, costly, and complex, to implement, but will needlessly destroy a historic neighborhood where residents are struggling to rebuild their community in the wake of Hurricane Katrina" said Richard Moe president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. "The VA and LSU had other options, yet they chose the most difficult and destructive route to delivering health care to the region's veterans and a medical teaching facility to the community. We strongly urge the VA and LSU to reconsider, and take another look at other less harmful alternatives on the table."

While the decision has come down today, five important questions remain unanswered as to why this particular site has been chosen by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Louisiana State University. "The sites selected by the VA and LSU would demolish fifteen square blocks within the Mid-City National Register Historic District, including some 165 historic structures, most of them homes, to make way for the new hospitals," said Walter Gallas, director of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's New Orleans Field Office. "This is a lose-lose situation all around."

More to come...

Read more about the threat to Charity Hospital and the surrounding issues.

Read the Full Press Release.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

Sustainable Building Trades and "Biophilic Design" Take the Stage at Greenbuild

Posted on: November 20th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Revolutionary Green: Innovation for Global Sustainability is the theme for this year's Greenbuild conference. Being socially aware in our neighborhoods and our global community was the focus of the Opening Plenary session featuring Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the African Children's Choir. Tutu's message was positive and energizing, but I must say that the highlight for me were the children. It was a group of about 20 ranging in age from 7 - 12. That is my inspiration -- the energy and joy radiating from these kids was deeply moving. They are part of the reason that I do what I do. This is why the places we are working so hard to save matter, not just for me, but for those that will come after me.

My first education session of the day was, "Greening the Trades of Tomorrow." Now I figured that this would be heavy on the technical aspects of building, but I figure that I have something to learn about how to engage teenagers in the preservation trades. The presenters were from Building Event Solutions, an education group focused on bringing the building trades to life in tech and trade schools throughout New England. Theirs is a hands-on approach, making the learning process fun for students in these programs. They are dedicated to introducing students and their instructors to green building best practices. They have been very successful in breathing life into the trade programs here in New England, garnering support from product and tool manufacturers. However, they also talked about window renovation, yes folks you heard me right, WINDOW RENOVATION! I almost leapt out of my chair and cheered - well, I was little more subtle than that, I did give them a thumbs up. While preservation was not a major feature of what the discussion it was easy to see that A) the ABCs of good construction and best practices are the cornerstone of their curriculum and B) these guys understand that the best practices include preservation. Stay tuned for more... a session at the National Preservation Conference perhaps?

"Biophilic Design and Sustainability in the Urban Context" was the other session I attended yesterday. Stephen Kellert is a professor at Yale University and I have seen him speak before. I wanted to learn more about this concept of Biophilia and Biophilic design.

... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

Green Building: The International Perspective

Posted on: November 19th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 2 Comments

 

Downtown Boston from the South Boston waterfront. (Photo: Barbara Campagna)

Downtown Boston from the South Boston waterfront. (Photo: Barbara Campagna)

Ready, set, go... it wasn't hard to miss that Greenbuild is being held in Boston this week. Almost as soon as I got off the plane there were welcome signs - stats from the city of Boston and the Transit authority on what they are doing to be green - as well as invitations to visit booths in the exhibit hall. So it's pretty clear that the city is excited about hosting Greenbuild.

I opted to attend International Day, wondering what everyone else is doing. I have had this belief that everyone is light years ahead of us, since we, the US, are the largest consumers of natural resources, we live by using more - so how can everyone else lead happy and successful lives with using less? I think that instead of taking you through the day, session by session, it is best to sum it up at this point. Building professionals from around the world are here to learn from us! Yes, that's right, the US the largest consumer in the world. Why? Because the USGBC has created the most widely adopted ratings framework world-wide and it works.

Developers and building professionals from British Columbia, Brazil, Abu Dhabi, Germany, and China participated in a series of fireside chats, panels and discussions to share their lessons learned and discuss the futures of their cities and countries given the LEED metrics.

Deutsche Bank has been so impressed with the results of the renovation of their headquarters building in Frankfort that they are going to be applying LEED to all of the buildings in their portfolio, from second tier cities in India to other Euorpean cities. One wonders when they will require LEED metrics to be applied to their clients portfolios as a condition of lending?

... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.