On the Path to Community ImprovementGrowSmart Maine Summit October 23, 2012Greg Paxton, Maine Preservation
What are Maine’s communities’ most valuable assets?• Citizens• Existing Tax Base
Managing the Tax BaseAlternate title of the session: Making Eyesores into Assets.
The ProblemSome view vacant buildings as an unfulfilled promise that needs to be eliminated.• An embarrassment• A failure• A visible sign of weakness
The Solution• View buildings as opportunities• Think from the ground up not the sky down• Inventory your buildings, including condition• Seek incremental improvement to buildings• Inventory the community – what needs are missing?• Match opportunities to existing spaces
Do one thing:Urge every new business to consider locating in downtown
Do AnotherGet over the fear of historic preservation• Developed neighborhood rehabilitation – Charleston, 1955, Providence, Portland, etc.• Developed downtown revitalization – Main Street Program: 2,200 cities, 30 in Maine – Maine Downtown Center, Maine Development Foundation – “Economic development in the context of historic preservation”• Promotes tourism and retirees (2 big imports)
Historic preservation is the most catalytic approach to revitalization in the country.Except for Las Vegas, experts cannot point to a city that has revitalized without historic preservation being a major component.Historic preservation is a bootstrap method for revitalization.The reason it works: When one owner of a historic building sees another owner fix his/hers up, they want to know how – and are spurred to imitate.Community appearance improves from the core out.
The Approach• Either tackle the biggest problem with an all out concerted effort (requires talent & experience)• Or begin to make small improvements to build momentum• We’ll discuss both today.