Pittsburgh-2011-08-15-020, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from pquan’s photostream

Pittsburgh’s historic buildings are irreplaceable treasures that make our city unique and give it a character and presence that many newer cities spend millions of dollars to try to replicate. We must start to recognize the incredible value of these architectural gems and use them to our advantage to serve as cornerstones for neighborhood revitalization and economic growth. Too often we discard one-of-a-kind historic buildings in the name of “progress” and replace them with cookie-cutter developments that add nothing to the character of the city. That has to stop.

1. Historic Preservation for Economic Growth

Historic preservation and revitalization are proven economic growth strategies. People want to live in a city that has preserved and re-activated its historic assets and adapted new uses from old treasures. We already have many examples of this strategy right here in Pittsburgh, from the Heinz Lofts on the North Shore to the Church Brew Works on the border of Lawrenceville and Bloomfield. Yet, far too often city leaders fail to recognize this potential and surrender our historic assets to make a quick buck.

Many of our historic assets are in neighborhoods that have been ignored by developers and city leaders for decades. Yet if they were marketed properly and if developers were aware of federal and state historic preservation tax credits they would become very attractive opportunities and could spur the revitalization of neighborhoods and the reinvestment of resources into these communities. I will work every day to make sure that we protect these historic assets. As mayor, I will work collaboratively to find developers and community members who are ready and willing to envision new uses for them that will create jobs, bring vibrancy to our neighborhoods, and put Pittsburgh on the map for creative historic preservation.

2. Preservation is Green

In addition to the proven economic development benefits, preserving and adapting an existing building is the most sustainable development strategy possible. Even the greenest new building uses more energy than the adaptation of an existing building and the more we can transform our historic structures with energy efficiency upgrades the more money we can save and the cleaner and greener Pittsburgh will be.