School of Architecture and Planning

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The Idea of Heritage Development

Executive summary

Buffalo's Opportunity

The Economics of Heritage Development

Urban Design and Heritage Development

Exhibit of Historic Views

Heritage Development
- a Case Study

Group Discussion Sessions

A Summary of the Conversation

Content Analysis
(coming soon)


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The Historic Gaylord Building in Lockport, Ill. - Courtesy Canal Corridor AssociationI am bowled over by the passion and interest on the part of the Buffalo community for the future of Buffalo, but in specific, for this opportunity now presented to you by the discovery of the western terminus of this magnificent Erie Canal. It’s an extraordinary opportunity and you’re so smart to take the time to say, “Now, what do we do?” We find a treasure we didn’t know we had and “now what do we do?” and I think that is what today is all about. Kevin has recruited a terrific lineup of people who bring to you different expertise and a depth of knowledge and experience in working in communities across this country. I’m hopeful they’ll shed some light on the question, because I think you have a real challenge before you: What do you do with what is essentially an archaeological find?

I like, when I have an audience of this size, to tell you a little bit about the National Trust for Historic Preservation because I realize, in my travels, not too many people really know what the National Trust does. We’re the national leader of America’s vigorous historic preservation movement. We are a non-profit, non-governmental organization. We have about 270,000 members across the country. I’ve managed to bring some membership brochures and left them on the table if you’d like to join. It’s a terrific organization.

We work to protect the irreplaceable. We work with communities all across this country to help them save the places that they care about, to revitalize neighborhoods and historic commercial districts and the landscapes that anchor them. The Trust is, unlike the environmental movement, which has lots of big national non-profits, the National Trust is really “it” for the national preservation movement.

So there are lots of different programs and so on, but we’re headquartered in Washington, D.C., and we have 20 historic sites across the country which we open for public visitation and then six regional offices. And, as Kevin mentioned, I run the Northeast Regional Office, which is in Boston, but we serve ten states from Maine to Delaware. So, you can imagine this is quite an extraordinary territory.

The Trust provides small grants and loans for projects, technical and legal assistance. We have a very active public policy program and are heavily engaged in this national conversation about sprawl and the negative effects of this sprawling development pattern that we’ve been engaged in since the 1940’s. We’re working very hard to get the Congress to pass the Historic Home Ownership Assistance Act which will provide a tax incentive to people who renovate and restore older houses in neighborhoods across the country.

I might also just give you a couple of examples of the way that we worked recently in your own community, in Buffalo. One of our most effective tools for drawing attention to threatened historic sites is our annual list of eleven most endangered most historic places. Last year we listed the four national historic landmark psychiatric hospitals in New York State on this list of endangered places because the State is in the process of de-accessioning all the mental hospitals and they were de-accessioning them all as if they were pretty much open land, developable land. But, in fact, four of them were National Historic Landmarks including your own H.H. Richardson hospital.

As a result, the Mayor really took the charge and organized an advisory committee to take a look at this hospital complex and develop a feasible re-use plan for that. Our office has been heavily involved with the Mayor and with Lucy Cook and the committee that’s been put together and, I’m hopeful, that as a result that magnificent complex will once again be a vital part of the Buffalo community.

In addition, we listed that same year “The corner of Main and Main.” That was a way to illustrate a phenomenon we’ve really seen first in New York but now in states across the country and that is what we are calling the invasion of historic Main Streets by the national drug store chains. And, you see (laughter and applause) — you know what I’m talking about. You’re seeing Walgreen’s and CVS and Rite-Aid looking for the corner of Main and Main, the most prominent intersection in the community and there they want to locate their suburban-style store.

As a result of this listing, the drug stores’ development practices received lots of national attention and we were able to go in and meet with the senior real estate leadership in the four largest chains: CVS, Rite-Aid, Walgreen’s and Eckerd’s. As a result, they’ve all made pledges to us that they will not demolish buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. And as a result, Rite-Aid has pulled their plans for Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo where they were going to demolish a block of houses for a very suburban-style store. So it’s been a (applause) — thank you.

So these are the ways that the regional offices are able to work with our partners in communities. Our statewide partners identify issues that seem to be affecting lots of communities and then bubble them up and we deal with them on a national basis. It’s really a tremendous role for the National Trust for Historic Preservation and I hope you’ll join us and become members and help us and also feed to us issues as you hear about them.

In all of this, I think what we’re really about is community building: building better places for people to live and to raise their families, to work and to visit. And, Jerry Adelmann was so articulate and eloquent last night in his remarks about Americans’ interest in being part of authentic places and authentic communities and that’s what we’re really coming together for today.

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