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The Value of Historic District Status in Georgia

March 7, 2019  |  Georgia State University Center for State and Local Finance
T he designation of historic districts is a popular tool for promoting the preservation of neighborhoods and culturally significant areas as well as for economic development. Designation of a specific area as a historic district may take place at the federal level through the National Register of Historic Places, the state level, or the local level. Federal and state designations provide prestige and recognition and give property owners access to tax credits for historically appropriate renovation; however, these designations do not place restrictions upon the property. On the other hand, local districts often include specific restrictions on the property, such as use and type of renovation.
Economic theory suggests the potential for historic district designation to have positive and negative effects on property values within the district. There is little empirical evidence on the net effect on property values, particularly with respect to distinguishing effects of listing on the National Register and local designations. This report analyzes the effects on property values of being in a historic district that becomes listed on the National Register and being in one that is designated as a local historic district. Using data from 1990-2015 for Fulton and DeKalb counties, this research documents the change in property values by type of historic district and finds that single-family residential property values increased by 13-14 percent in historic districts after becoming listed on the National Register and by approximately 7 percent in historic districts after being designated as a local historic district. These findings also suggest that fears of negative property value effects associated with local historic designation or listing on the National Register are unwarranted.