In 2015, HSF received a grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation to undertake an economic analysis of preservation’s impacts to the local economy in Savannah and Chatham County. HSF and the City of Tybee Island provided matching funds.

The benefits of preservation to local and statewide economies around the country have been documented for several decades through scores of studies and reports, but this study was the first of its kind, because it intentionally did not include residual benefits from heritage tourism. In other words, HSF understood that preservation’s direct positive impacts on the local economy were strong enough to be measured by themselves and stand alone.

PlaceEconomics, a Washington, DC-based real estate and economic consulting firm, researched and analyzed data and drafted the final report. A local advisory team comprised of city and county officials, economists, realtors, and academicians, provided oversight to the methodology.

The results of the study were as expected— preservation positively and significantly impacts the economic health of Savannah and Chatham County. Increased property values; faster rates of appreciation; lower rates of foreclosure; improved walkability, bikeability and livability; and density at a human scale are all measurable effects from preservation.

The 60-page report, which is easy to read and full of photos and charts, sets a new standard for such local studies, and half a dozen cities around the country have since followed Savannah’s lead in producing similar reports.