I’m all about finding the positive side-effects of the current recession, for example, now that I can no longer afford to go out to eat often, I have learned to cook like 5,000 more things and can wow my friends with my dazzling kitchen skills! Yes, so the recession has simply made me more lovable and you can’t put a price on that. And even though my own income is, well, let’s say modest right now, much of the work I AM getting is somehow the result of positive effects of the recession. Grants abound and conservationists, preservationists, and environmental advocates are all benefitting in some way. And I like to think the general public benefits from all of our efforts, even if they don’t know it yet.
A recent New York Times article explained how land conservationists are scooping up acres of land in places that were already purchased by developers to build on. Depressed real estate prices have effectively chopped the heads off of development projects all over the county. Because of this, state and local governments, conservationists, and non-profit groups like the Trust for Public Land are purchasing thousands of acres of open land that should have been protected in the first place. This land will now be “put aside in perpetuity for parks, watershed protection or simply preservation of open space.”
There have also been a considerable benefits in terms of building preservation. First of all, there are plenty of grants out there now, and will soon be more, to weatherize existing buildings. Also, because of the housing bust, homeowners are staying put more rather than take a huge loss on their home, and making existing homes more efficient. This lessens the demand for new construction, of course. And yes, I know, people are out of work as a result, but with billions of dollars being poured into programs like “Cash for Caulkers,” hopefully more construction workers will be trained on how to retrofit existing buildings. There is plenty of research out there now that shows how projects on existing buildings actually generate a lot more work than building new.
An interesting article from a Real Estate news source talks about how Michigan’s Governor has signed legislation that will bolster the historic preservation tax credit to help downtown areas. Beyond the typical 20% tax credit, plans that cost $250,000 or less will receive additional funding. This will be a huge help to smaller downtown areas in the state and help increase local business as well as tourism.
Beyond this, I would venture to guess that building owners across the country would be more likely to pursue landmark designations in an effort to get that tax credit for repairs in the midst of a financial downturn. Hmmm, also more money for preservationists. Can you even imagine how much more land and many more historic properties will be left alone and/or protected because of this? I mean, it’s all pretty darned exciting, folks.