"Historic preservation is not just good for the eyes and heart.
It is good for the pocketbook," said David Listokin, a professor at
the Center for Urban Policy Research of Rutgers University in New
He was commenting on a recently released two-year study that he
co-authored with Michael Lahur, another professor at the center.
The 350-page report details the economic benefits, both direct and
indirect, in New Jersey and nationally from such historic
preservation activities as restoring and rehabilitating historic
structures, heritage tourism and the operations of historic sites and
State and national advocates say the report is the first to
provide the hard numbers to substantiate what they say they knew all
along -- that the dollars spent on historic preservation create jobs,
promote tourism, increase property values and attract new investment.
"For too long, and largely the fault of preservationists, the
arguments for historic preservation have been soft, and about its
`touchy, feely' impacts," said Dovanan D. Rypkema, a real estate and
economic development consultant in Washington. "But what decision-
makers want to know is how much will it cost and how much will it
generate in revenue."
This study, he said, will help answer those questions and remove a
weak spot in the growth of preservation.
"It is a new source of ammunition for preservationists trying to
leverage more room at the bargaining table, especially at a time of
budget crunching," added Janice Wilson Stridick, president of the
board of Preservation New Jersey, a statewide nonprofit advocacy
The study showed that historic preservation activities generated
$580 million annually in direct economic activity in the state.
Using a multiplier effect, the report says that direct benefits on an
annual basis translate into, among other things, 10,140 jobs, $263
million in payroll and business earnings and $293 million in local
and state taxes.
As part of those benefits, the report also says that historic
properties in New Jersey -- valued at $6 billion -- pay $120 million
in annual property taxes and have a higher market value because of
their designation as historic sites. New Jersey has about 1,100
properties individually listed on the State and National Registers of
Historic Places and thousands more in 240 historic districts,
according to state figures.
"There are real dollars to be made in historic preservation," said
Listokin, noting that its "economic pump-priming effect" was greater
than some alternative investments. For example, the study reports,
every $1 million spent on historic rehabilitation generates 38.3
jobs, $1.3 million in payroll and business earnings and $202,000 in
state taxes, compared with 36 jobs, $1.2 million in income and
$189,000 in taxes from new construction projects.
The study also points out that 9.1 million tourists visit New
Jersey's historic sites each year and spend $432 million."Heritage
tourism is an area that has not been fully exploited in the state,"
The $70,000 study was financed by state and federal grants,
notably from the National Center for Preservation Technology and
Training of the Federal Department of the Interior, which provided
$40,000. The center is making the study available to other state
historic preservation organizations and a summary of its highlights
to targeted groups such as urban planners and developers, said Marc
R. Gilberg, research coordinator at the center.
The report was done for the New Jersey Historic Trust, a quasi-
public agency within the state's Department of Environmental
Protection that awards matching grants to projects involving historic
buildings owned by government agencies or nonprofit groups.
Two projects in the state that received grants from the trust in
recent years underscore the economic benefits of historic