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Center for Economic Development


In the sunset of the 1990s and beginning of the Millennium, historic designation of properties has become an important tool increasingly used to preserve cultural heritage, revive central-city neighborhoods, and stimulate community economic development. Many academic studies illustrated that historic preservation has a positive impact on property values (Zahirovic-Herbert and Chatterjee, 2010; Leicheanko et al., 1999; Clark and Herrin, 1997; Schaeffer and Millerick, 1991).1 Since 2005, historic preservation became part of the sustainable growth concept emphasizing property values, the reuse of historic buildings, integration of culture and multi-functional landscapes, and environmental stewardship. There is a scarcity of literature measuring direct economic benefits of historic designation outside of impact studies based on multiplier effect or research assessing community values of historic properties rehabilitation. Bowtz and Ibenholt (2009), Doyle (2010), Gleaser (2011), Mason (2008) and Snowball (2008) outlined the relationships between historic preservation and economic development; these studies inspired the research design for this study.

The Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit (OHPTC) Program is administered by Ohio’s Development Services Agency to leverage the private redevelopment of historic buildings. The program provides a tax credit for the rehabilitation expenses incurred by owners of historically significant buildings located across the state. The tax credits subsidize up to 25% of qualified rehabilitation expenditures for historic rehabilitation projects, capped at $5 million per project (Figure I). Tax credits are awarded bi-annually in June and December. The credits are leveraged to supplement pre-existing financing, which can include private sources as well as the 20% Federal Historic Preservation Tax Credit. The state has a $60 million limit on its tax credit awards per fiscal year. In 2014, the state of Ohio extended the tax credit program by approving the catalytic project award, which provides up to $25 million in total tax credits (over 5 years) for especially large and impactful projects. One catalytic award may be approved each two-year state fiscal biennium, which is subject to the $60 million program cap.