Our proposed spatial analysis project is the development of a multi-faceted Preservation Vulnerability Index that compiles public datasets such as zoning classifications, historic designation, market volatility, building occupancy, and area median income to identify areas in Philadelphia that are particularly vulnerable to the loss of historic resources. We envision the end product helping to identify trends that lead to historic buildings being demolished to make way for new construction, to help our constituents and stakeholders visualize the potential for detrimental change to Philadelphia’s historic built environment, and to facilitate conversations on appropriate development among industry leaders.
We envision utilizing publicly available datasets of Philadelphia zoning classifications; historic designations (both locally managed Philadelphia Register properties and state/federal managed National Register properties); occupancy and permit activity with assistance from the Department of Licenses & Inspections (namely demolition and new construction permits); census block income-data; and existing or lapsed City of Philadelphia ten-year tax abatements.
Research & Policy Lab (formerly Preservation Green Lab), a research arm of the National Trust for Historic Preservation based in Denver, Colorado, is also a frequent and willing partner and have devoted much attention to Philadelphia in recent years. The Reinvestment Fund’s Market Value Analysis can further help measure market activity, in particular speculative housing volatility and/or disinvestment trends. Lastly, State and Federal Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit activity and impacts may also be applicable, both of which are inventoried and available for the previous two decades.
Ideally, the resulting maps and reports will be in a format that is flexible enough for us to incorporate into future public presentations, in-house collateral materials, and web and/or social media platforms. We would also like to work with the Fellow to design a succinct and more visually ambitious “leave-behind” document, something that summarizes the project’s findings and that is appropriate for members of Philadelphia City Council and business and civic leaders. This document would support our advocacy positions of increased protections for historic properties and increased public support for the redevelopment and maintenance of historic properties. Additionally, we envision this document being a key element of the Fellow’s portfolio highlighting their work on this project, and something they can share with future potential partners and employers.
We envision using the data in a variety of ways. As detailed above, we’d like to create a “leave-behind” for members of City Council and related government agencies that highlights the findings of the research. Our work is largely rooted in Philadelphia but we also aim to extend our advocacy work to state officials in Harrisburg and federal officials in Washington, D.C. Additionally, we would aim to incorporate this information into presentations that we routinely deliver to community leaders, advocacy groups, business owners, real estate professionals, and other affinity stakeholder groups.
Internally, the Index will be most useful in helping us guide our efforts, better anticipate development and disinvestment pressures across the city, and make better informed, strategic choices in where we devote our time and resources.