By Melissa Jest and Cara Bertron

Attendees tour the in-progress rehabilitation of the Hahne & Co. Building. In this image an attendee takes pictures of the renderings of the completed Hahne’s building in downtown Newark. | Credit: Anthony Alvarez

Attendees tour the in-progress rehabilitation of the Hahne & Co. Building. In this image an attendee takes pictures of the renderings of the completed Hahne’s building in downtown Newark. | Credit: Anthony Alvarez

The excitement was palpable in Newark one evening last December. Stacks of the Action Agenda for Historic Preservation in Legacy Cities, a new report from the Preservation Rightsizing Network (PRN) and a broad array of partners, sat on a table outside the Great Hall of 15 Washington, a newly rehabilitated building owned by Rutgers University—Newark.

15 Washington itself played a strong supporting role in the release of the Action Agenda, which advocates for new strategies in reviving America’s legacy cities—older industrial cities that have lost 20 percent or more of their population. Redeveloping built assets, like 15 Washington and the long-vacant Hahne & Co. department store down the street, for housing, commercial and community uses is a cornerstone of those strategies. So, too, are the imagination and partnerships that have revived both buildings.

“The Action Agenda provides clear steps legacy cities can take to leverage older buildings and local heritage as powerful assets for revitalization,” said Emilie Evans, cofounder of Brick + Beam Detroit, an initiative that connects and supports building rehabbers.... Read More →

Tools To Help Protect Your Historic District

Posted on: February 9th, 2016 by Preservation Leadership Forum Staff 2 Comments


NoHo Historic District | Photograph Courtesey of the New York Landmarks Conservancy

NoHo Historic District | Photograph Courtesy of the New York Landmarks Conservancy

In the last few weeks, historic preservationists across the country have noted heightened threats to a key protective tool in saving places: historic districts. Swift-moving legislative efforts in Michigan and Wisconsin have been especially troubling. While threats to historic districts have existed before, accompanying negative editorials on sites such as CityLab call for a strong and concerted response. These attacks ignore the short- and long-term benefits of historic districts—economic, social and environmental—in favor of politically expedient but unnecessary curbs that would likely drive down the very development and investment that historic district opponents are trying to attract.

We know leaders in the field want to speak up but need the right tools and resources to make a strong case. Our efforts in Michigan and elsewhere are producing materials that can help you advocate for historic districts in your community.

Here is an initial list of resources to help with make the case for your historic district.

Note: This is just an initial list of materials to get the ball rolling. If you have anything you think should be added, email forumonline [at]

... Read More →


Nell Ziehl on the Annaplis Waterfront. | Credit: Nell Ziehl

Nell Ziehl on the Annapolis waterfront. | Credit: Nell Ziehl

Nell Ziehl is the chief of planning, education and outreach for the Maryland Historical Trust and has worked in historic preservation for more than 15 years. A former student of Mesopotamian archaeology now working on climate planning for historic communities in Maryland, Ziehl takes a “long view” of human civilization. In this Q&A with Preservation Green Lab’s Margaret O’Neal, Ziehl talks about her experience and interest in preservation and climate change and, with the anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act, reflects back on her own career and what she considers the biggest opportunity for preservation in the next 50 years.

You have an extensive background in traditional preservation work. At what point did you start to consider that older and historic buildings—including cultural heritage sites—could be part of a larger conversation about climate, environmental sustainability and resilience?

I’ve always been interested in the intersection of preservation and environmentalism and, in fact, got into preservation as a conservationist—I felt and still feel that if you can repurpose rather than destroy something you’ve made, you should do so. In my view, retaining built assets should be the default for community planning with the understanding that not every resource needs to be preserved to the same standards.

I first became aware of projections for sea-level rise and changes to storms and flooding around six or seven years ago. It was obviously an emergency for cultural heritage. During my time at the National Trust, Anthony Veerkamp, Patrice Frey and I started work on the issue, focused on the Chesapeake. I'm grateful to be able to continue that work at the Maryland Historical Trust. It's not an easy subject to tackle, though, because there aren't great, long-term solutions for vulnerable historic properties. Every intervention involves trade-offs.

... Read More →