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Home arrowACHP Task Force on Rightsizing and Historic Preservation

ACHP Task Force on Rightsizing and Historic Preservation

ACHP Announces Community Revitalization Policy Statement
After years of research and study into the needs of communities across the U.S. who are struggling to revive their economies and historic assets, the ACHP has issued a policy statement aimed at helping to provide ideas and principles for successful community revitalization. Read more about how to help your community.

In March 2014 the Rightsizing Task Force published Managing Change: Preservation and Rightsizing in America, a report addressing rightsizing and historic preservation in America's legacy cities.

Rightsizing as defined by the ACHP is the redevelopment of the community in response to prolonged job and population loss, housing vacancy and abandonment, and deterioration of infrastructure, all of which create challenges in the management of stabilization and reinvestment efforts in existing neighborhoods. The community's response to rightsizing would ideally be a holistic approach to developing and implementing plans and activities that improve land use, real estate, infrastructure, and other systems needed to enhance quality of life, job creation, and the delivery of social services.

In 2011, ACHP Chairman Milford Wayne Donaldson, appointed a task force of federal agencies and select ACHP members to address the issue of "rightsizing." Outside advisors including the ACHP Alumni Foundation, the Council on Environmental Quality, and the Domestic Policy Council assisted the task force. The purpose of the ACHP's task force is to advise the Administration and Congress on policies, procedural improvements, and incentives to promote usable models for the redevelopment of urban and regional areas suffering from the consequences of permanent and long-term job and population loss and excessive property abandonment and vacancies.

While the report focuses on legacy cities–older industrial cities undergoing dramatic change–its findings and recommendations are relevant to any city or town that exhibits rightsizing characteristics. It offers community leaders, local stakeholders, and government agencies valuable suggestions on using historic preservation tools and techniques that have proven effective in managing change and building strong, resilient communities.

The report informs citizens, non-profits, and government officials about the important role federal agencies play in assisting communities to address rightsizing. The report also includes a list of federal programs and major foundations that may provide assistance to local governments for transformation initiatives.

For additional information on the ACHP's Rightsizing Task Force, please contact


Next Steps of the Rightsizing Task Force

The Task Force's focus is now on the implementation of the report's recommendations, some of which include the following:

  • The Federal Historic Rehabilitation Tax Incentive Program should be expanded to include owner-occupied residences, with an emphasis on low- and moderate-income owners.
  • Banking agencies should be engaged with the ACHP on incorporating preservation values into their revitalization programs.
  • Federal agencies should ensure that the Section 106 process begins at the earliest points in the planning process, and that projects are carried out in a comprehensive manner.

In order to successfully implement the Managing Change report the ACHP will engage with preservation partners from within the federal family as well as local governments, the banking industry, charitable foundations, and non-profit entities such as Community Development Corporations.

Rightsizing and Historic Preservation Resources


Connecting with Partners involved in Redevelopment

The Preservation Rightsizing Network actively promotes a platform for preservation planners and advocates to share knowledge and resources regarding rightsizing.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides a variety of funding opportunities for community redevelopment such as Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), Neighborhood Stabilization Grants, and the Choice Neighborhood Initiative.

The National Main Street Center, established by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, offers a variety of tools such as trainings, online design guides, and research, all with the goal of promoting and revitalizing traditional downtowns and commercial districts.

The U.S. Economic Development Administration not only provides funding opportunities for revitalization of infrastructure, promotes regional strategies, and technical assistance, but also provides tools to facilitate informed development decisions.

PlaceEconomics played a crucial role in developing the Managing Change report and has published numerous reports on rightsizing, main street development, and economic redevelopment.

The National Resource Network is key resource in the Obama Administration's Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) initiative. Its Web site offers direct technical assistance, a searchable Resource Library comprised of current resources focusing on practical solutions and analysis, and access to Peer Networks.

Smart Growth America offers resources for urban, suburban and rural communities such as technical assistance, the National Brownfields Coalition, and research regarding a variety of planning initiatives.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants fund a broad range of road, rail, transit, and port projects that meet their five long-term outcomes: safety, economic competitiveness, state of good repair, livability, and environmental sustainability.

Transportation for America is an alliance of elected, business and civic leaders which provides extensive Map-21 resources, detailed information regarding TIGER grant recipients, and information on federal policies impacting transportation planning.

The Center for Community Progress is the only national non-profit solely dedicated to blight elimination. Its Web site provides useful resources such as the Building American Cities Toolkit and a variety of publications focused on redevelopment efforts.

The Federal Historic Preservation Tax Credit and Low Income Housing Tax Credit are tools to fund and incentivize historic preservation and redevelopment.

Rightsizing in the News

Revitalizing Smaller Legacy Cities, From Gary to Lowell

From Gary, Indiana, to Lowell, Massachusetts, smaller post-industrial cities are taking strategic steps to regenerate. They have a chance to follow their larger rebounding counterparts like Pittsburgh and Cleveland, by building on downtowns, capitalizing on a unique sense of place, and focusing on workforce development. Read more.

Mexican American Preservationists are Saving San Antonio’s Urban Fabric

A decade ago, the local landmark would have faced little chance of survival. But after years of grassroots activism led by the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center and the preservationists who went on to form the WPA in 2009, the city is starting to use historic preservation as a tool to help revitalize neighborhoods. Read more.

Pullman collects nearly $8 million in donations before Obama visit

Check out these amazing images that document the historic Pullman factory district national monument. This community and the new national monument benefit from an $8 million commitment from the National Park Service and the hard work of local residents.

For example, the neighborhood-based community development organization Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives has worked to develop historic row houses into affordable housing options in the North Pullman neighborhood. Read more here from the Chicago Tribune. Read the White House’s fact sheet its new program of “Every Kid in a Park.”

The Best Complete Streets Policies of 2014
Smart Growth America has announced the Best Complete Streets Policies of 2014!

“Eleven agencies led the nation in creating and adopting comprehensive Complete Streets policies in 2014. These policies are a model for communities across the country. They are:

1. Ogdensburg, NY
2. Troy, NY
3. Lakemoor, IL (tie)
3. Dawson County, MT (tie)
3. Austin, TX (tie)

6. Acton, MA (tie)
6. Middleton, MA (tie)
6. Reading, MA (tie)
6. Salem, MA (tie)
10. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (tie)
10. Stoughton, MA (tie)

The National Complete Streets Coalition ranks each year’s new Complete Streets policies to celebrate the people who developed exceptional policy language and to provide leaders at all levels of government with examples of strong Complete Streets policies. Adopting a strong Complete Streets policy is one step toward developing communities that are safe, accessible, and affordable for everyone.” Read the full report here.

Main Street Now, the Journal of the National Main Street Center, Fall 2014 Edition

This quarterly publication offers research, guidance, and commentary on activities related to Main Street Development. The Fall 2014 issue is the 35th Anniversary of the Main Street Now and focuses on the future of the main street program. See the full publication here.

Pullman Neighborhood to be Newest National Park

The southeast side of Chicago will be home to the nation's newest national park! This designation highlights a massive success for the historic Pullman neighborhood which was hit hard by the foreclosure crisis. While maintaining historic integrity, revitalization efforts such as affordable housing, anchor business introduction, and commercial structure reuse have all been successfully undertaken. Find out more about this rightsizing success here.

Neighborhood Revitalization in Shaker Heights, Ohio

International City/County Management Association recently published an interview of Kamla Lewis, Director of Neighborhood Revitalization, Shaker Heights, OH. This project demonstrates the ability of neighborhood associations and local residents to implement innovative, adaptive, and local strategies to cope with vacant properties. Read the full interview here.


Updated February 20, 2015

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