Contact: Liz Swaine, Executive Director
Downtown Development Authority
Swaine Speaks at Tulane University’s Preservation Conference
Downtown Development Authority/ Downtown Shreveport Development Corporation Executive Director Liz Swaine was invited to speak to historic preservationists from around the region about historic projects spurring investment in downtown Shreveport last week.
The Preservation Matters conference in New Orleans was sponsored by Tulane University, the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism and the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans and featured Donovan Rypkema of PlaceEconomics, Louisiana State Representative Walt Leger, Merrill Hoopengardner, the President of the National Trust Community Investment Corporation, and others.
Preservation Pays: How Everyone Benefits was the conference topic and cases showing the economic benefits of historic preservation were shown.
Swaine’s case study of the 600 and 700 blocks of Texas Street showed the difference made by historic rehabilitation in those blocks, the importance of the state and federal historic tax credits and the catalytic effect of tax credits on even those properties not using them. Since state tax credits were approved, those two blocks have seen a 109% increase in the number of building permits pulled. Investment in the blocks since the credits stands at $36.7m with additional in the pipeline. Of interest is that only 6 of the 12 completely rehabbed buildings applied for the credits, showing that tax-credit improvements can spur other non- tax credit growth.
“We’ve made huge strides in downtown Shreveport,” says Swaine, “but what Donovan Rypkema calls the ‘Risk/Reward Relationship’ is still in play. He says we can’t make people act irrationally- such as in buying and rehabbing a building in which they will always lose money- so we have to figure out how to make it a rational one in which money can be made. That’s why we have to keep working and looking for creative solutions.”
Swaine says there is strong interest in downtown Shreveport. “Shreveport is a hotbed of opportunities for historic rehab and restoration and developers and individual investors contact us often about owning a piece of history. We tell them that the opportunities are limited and when they’re gone, they’re gone. It’s best not to wait too long!”