Preserving neighborhoods’ context and character

I'm a preservationist. But what does that really mean?


Preservationism has a reputation as the movement that says no to change – people who only want to cast things in amber and freeze them in time. But this couldn’t be further from the truth today. 


If you go to the National Trust for Historic Preservation's website, you’ll find three main action categories for preservation: national treasures, historic sites, and reurbanism. 


I’m a proud reurbanist because I believe historic neighborhoods have great context and character. When traveling, I always make it a point to visit downtown areas and older neighborhoods to see how its buildings are being reborn. The architectural makeup is certainly a highlight.


But these areas have a “walkability” that encourage a sense of place. Each has its own unique density, scale and value. It’s easy to tell that many historic neighborhoods were built in the pre-automobile era because they’re geared toward people, not cars. They are designed and built to a scale that feels comfortable and inviting as you walk through down their streets. You can actually feel the impact on the community by having saved part of its historical fabric.


I’ve witnessed firsthand that impact when people who once worked in a building for decades of their lives return to it once its been repurposed and can see it in a whole new light. People genuinely appreciate you taking care of a piece of their town.


Preservationists can also make changes toward a more inviting urban experience. For example, when we transitioned the printing press addition at The Times Lofts, we took a barren brick wall and added large windows and landscaping which became a highlight for our private townhouses.


Being in a historic district helps protect your investment. That’s because these buildings are part of a community’s historic fabric and add value to it. There is empirical evidence that buildings in historic districts hold their value, making property investments there more sustainable.


Let’s face it: You can see the same collection of big box stores anywhere in the country. There’s nothing identifying or special about them.

I firmly believe that preservation helps a community hold on to its sense of place. And that’s important.


If you believe that, too, consider being part of the solution by joining….

Bay City Historic District Commission

Young Preservationists Great Lakes Bay

Michigan Historic Preservation Network

Michigan Young Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

Preservation Action


You and your community will be glad you did.