Residential Historic Preservation and Neighbourhood Stability

Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2018

Publication Title

Journal of Urban Regeneration & Renewal


In addition to facing the challenges of weak market demand and a deteriorating physical capital stock, legacy cities are among those hardest hit by the housing crisis. This combination of circumstances has devastated neighbourhoods, impacting residents, and testing the resolve of neighbourhood planners and their cities. As a potential and partial solution to aid an aging legacy city housing stock and bring about the much sought after ‘neighbourhood stability’, it would seem on the surface that historic preservation would be a go-to tool for regeneration in legacy cities. This has been hampered, however, by a lack of empirical evidence on the relationship between historic preservation and neighbourhood stability. This research paper investigates the relationship between two parcel-level data sets: one on foreclosure filings, and one that details the Heritage Home Program of The Cleveland Restoration Society. This programme has made over 1,000 loans, channeling preservation investments of over $36m into the residential neighbourhoods of Cleveland and its Cuyahoga County suburbs. The research focus is on the degree to which the fate of these preservation properties differs from the average housing outcomes of their surrounding neighbourhoods and communities. Relative to a variety of temporal, spatial, and contextual comparisons, the residential historic preservation activity studied is revealed to have been a stabilising force for neighbourhoods, evidenced through its lower incidence of foreclosure. The use of residential historic preservation, in conjunction with rehabilitation and strategic demolition, offers promise as a neighbourhood stabilisation strategy.