Looking Up, Downtown: A National Survey and Assessment of Residential Development Incentives for the Rehabilitation of Vacant Upstairs Space in Historic Downtowns
public private partnerships
Historic Preservation and Conservation
In order to facilitate redevelopment and foster economic growth in their downtowns, many local governments across the United States offer financial incentives to assist developers and business owners in rehabilitating their older or historic structures. While many economic development tools focus on the establishment and growth of businesses in historic downtowns, there is a general understanding that in order for a neighborhood or downtown commercial district to thrive, it must also have a solid residential population. This thesis focuses specifically on redevelopment incentives aimed at creating or enhancing upper floor residential space. Through short case studies, it evaluates different types of incentives, including Tax Increment Financing (TIF), tax abatement, revolving funds, and other grant programs. It then delves into the Upstairs Fund program initiated in Wilmington, Delaware, before comparing Wilmington's program to others around the country. It concludes with a discussion of the importance of dedicated local governments, committed developers, and the utilization of public-private partnerships in successful redevelopment projects and incentive programs.