Historic preservation efforts yielding contracting opportunities
Government leaders throughout the country are leading initiatives to renovate, preserve, and modernize historic municipal buildings, or build new public assets. These efforts may be found in every state and at every jurisdictional level of government. Many of the projects being planned will be especially conducive to public-private partnerships.
In St. Petersburg, Florida, one such opportunity involves the rehabilitation of St. Petersburg Housing Authority’s historic Jordan Park. Plans for the affordable housing development along with a budget and projected cost of $93 million. The project’s main source of funding has been secured through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and recently received an additional $2 million contribution from the city of St. Petersburg. Additionally, the project is eligible for certain tax credits that will help offset costs. A start date for early 2022 will include the first phase of redevelopment work. City officials want to have the project completed by the end of 2024.
Minnesota’s Ramsey County has recently become fertile ground for a new wave of historical preservation projects. The local historical society recently approved a $21 million master plan for a Gibbs Farm project. Planning has been ongoing for more than two years and the construction phase is set to begin in 2022. Revitalization work will eventually make the property more sustainable, so it can provide year-round access to a wider array of visitors while also preserving a staple of the local culture.
The county also will launch a $9.8 million preservation project for the Ramsey County Historic Barn. Work on the historic barn will include converting it to a multi-functional facility while still preserving part of its historic architecture. Current scheduling for the project indicates that construction is set to begin in the second quarter of 2022.
Another Minnesota project will include preservation work on a bridge completed in 1883. The Stone Arch Bridge in the city of Minneapolis was designated a National Historic Engineering Landmark in 1978 by American Society for Civil Engineers. Upgrades to it fall under the supervision of the Minnesota Department of Transportation and will cost $15 million. The project will be let to bidding in 2022, and work will begin immediately.
City officials in Erie, Pennsylvania, have designated the historic Quin-T Tech Paper and Boards property as a target for another kind of revitalization work. Following a 15-year period of abandonment, the property’s large structures (such as a towering smokestack) have limited practical use and present sustainability concerns. Revitalization work in this case will involve demolishing structures and environmental clean-up. Then, the project will include construction of new parks and trail networks throughout the designated acreage. This $3 million project will begin with pre-demolition and surface clean-up in 2022.
Government leaders in Richmond, Virginia, are exploring historical preservation work on roadways. A plan will be developed to reconnect historic Jackson Ward to the city’s arterial network of roads. The study will draw on input from community members. Once the study is completed, it will provide a clearer picture of what kind of specific design plans and grant programs will be most beneficial to the project.
The city of New Haven, Connecticut, soon will launch revitalization projects. Last year, city officials hired a firm to provide design and engineering work on the 100-year-old Strong School that has been abandoned for years. The study is now being used to itemize potential costs. City officials will use these findings to create a request for proposals with the hope of attracting developers to form a public-private partnership.
In Saratoga Springs, New York, planning is underway to construct the city’s third fire station. The new fire station and adjoining parking lot will be constructed along a segment of the historic Saratoga Racetrack property in the city. Because of revitalization concerns, the design plan has already exceeded $7 million in costs. Officials will continue this work until the project is open to bidding, which is tentatively scheduled for March 2022.
A larger project is just beginning to take shape in New York City’s Delacorte Theater. Work to revitalize the theater, which has been operating for nearly six decades, is anticipated to reach a cost of $77 million. Over half of the project’s cost has been funded through contributions. Revitalization work will focus on making the facility more accessible and comfortable for members of the arts community who have disabilities. The project’s launch has been scheduled for 2022.
Elected officials in Texas recently allocated $25 million in the state’s budget for the preservation of historic courthouses. A portion of the funding includes work on the historic Mason County Courthouse. Work on this project will begin in 2022. In the city of Austin, officials have created a Preservation Plan Working Group. The members of this organization are charged with devising a preservation plan for all of Austin’s historical assets based on principles of inclusiveness, equity, and community.
These opportunities indicate that public assets are garnering focused attention. And, along with projects to preserve older facilities, many new landmarks will be constructed as well. Long-range planning documents indicate that these types of contracting opportunities will be abundant over the next several years … and likely longer.