The Phoenix City Council has adopted key findings of an impact study of the city’s historic preservation efforts over the past several decades. The study titled, “Preservation Phoenix Style,” identifies Phoenix’s unique historic character and how historic preservation efforts have benefited the city.
“Our historic neighborhoods provide stable and viable assets to the city and the residents who live there,” said Councilwoman Laura Pastor. “Phoenix is a great example of a city that truly champions its history and understands the tangible value preservation plays in a city’s growth.”
In 2020, the city council authorized a national consultant to conduct the research. The consultants met with small business owners, adaptive reuse developers, Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and Councilwoman Laura Pastor, city department directors, and key community members who were involved early in the historic preservation program. The city’s historic preservation program was adopted in 1985, along with the Historic Preservation Ordinance, to protect, enhance and preserve areas of historical, cultural, archaeological and aesthetic historic significance.
“The study confirms what preservation advocates intuitively know: that historic preservation has economic, social, cultural and environmental benefits,” said Historic Preservation Officer Michelle Dodds. “The study also demonstrates that our old housing stock provides affordable housing and should be maintained.”
The study found Phoenix used innovation and creativity to provide tangible benefits to the economy, environment and culture. Below are some of the key findings of the study.
- The historic neighborhoods of Phoenix are dense, 1,000 people per square mile more dense than residential neighborhoods in the rest of the City.
- Historic neighborhoods in Phoenix are walkable—most rated “Very Walkable,” as contrasted to “Car Dependent” for the City as a whole.
- During the real estate crisis which accompanied the Great Recession, foreclosure rates in historic neighborhoods were measurably lower than the rest of the City, a pattern that has continued in every year since.
- Even during the last five years of a boom cycle in real estate, property values in historic districts have outperformed the city as a whole.
- Phoenix historic neighborhoods are diverse neighborhoods, by race, ethnicity, and income.
- Phoenix historic neighborhoods are also diverse in their housing stock with a much wider range of housing options than most Phoenix subdivisions.
- These neighborhoods also have a diversity of housing prices, with two-thirds of the housing stock having values in the mid-market range of $200,000 to $400,000.
- The tree-cover typically found in historic areas has six times the air quality benefits per acre, five times the water saved, and sequesters five times the CO2 of the rest of the city. Commercial areas with a concentration of heritage buildings are magnets for small businesses, legacy businesses, and businesses in the creative and knowledge categories.
- 95% of all businesses in the heritage commercial areas employ fewer than 20 workers.
- Legacy businesses—those in business for 25 years or longer— make up 12% of businesses in heritage commercial areas, versus 3% in the city overall.
- Job growth rates for businesses in the creative and knowledge sectors have all been higher over the past decade in heritage commercial areas than in the City as a whole.
- Forty-six percent of Phoenix households are considered low income, very low income or extremely low income. The city’s inventory of older housing stock is providing affordable housing largely without subsidy, likely due to its age, condition and smaller unit size.
- It is critical that older affordable housing be maintained as it is not possible for Phoenix to build itself out of the affordable housing crisis.
For questions about Historic Preservation contact the city of Phoenix Historic Preservation Office.