The University of Houston’s Hobby Center for Public Policy (HCPP) has released the results of a study that clearly illustrates the positive impact historic district designation has on property values in Houston. Greater Houston Preservation Alliance commissioned the study to illustrate the value of historic district designation in dollars and cents.
Similar studies have been conducted in other cities, including New York, Philadelphia and Galveston, but comparisons to Houston were difficult because those communities have much stronger preservation protections. The HCPP findings show that Houston’s results are in line with those for other cities: Historic properties in designated historic districts have higher appraised values and maintain those values better than those in comparable adjacent neighborhoods that are not designated historic districts.
HCPP conducted a comparative analysis of Harris County Appraisal District records from the past ten years. Appraised values in three designated City of Houston historic districts were measured against values of comparable properties in adjacent historic neighborhoods that are not designated historic districts. Separate analyses were conducted for land values and improvement values. To ensure the analysis compared like properties, the improvements studied were historic houses with similar construction dates. Values for more than 1,500 separate properties were analyzed.
The study compared appraised values in the Old Sixth Ward Historic District on the south side of Washington Avenue to those in the First Ward on the north side of Washington. Property values in the Westmoreland Historic District on the north side of West Alabama Street were compared to those in the Bute Addition on the south side of West Alabama. Values in the Norhill Historic District were compared to those in the southern section of Norhill that is not part of the historic district.
Among HCPP’s findings:
• From 2001 to 2007, appraised values of historic houses in the Old Sixth Ward Historic District more than doubled. Properties in the historic district generally maintained those new higher values until 2010. From 2005 to 2010, appraised values for historic houses in First Ward were in consistent decline.
• From 2001 to 2010, appraised land values in Old Sixth Ward Historic District remained consistently higher than appraised land values in First Ward.
• From 2001 to 2010, houses in the Westmoreland Historic District had substantially higher appraised values than those in Bute Addition.
• The appraised values of houses in both areas of Norhill decreased beginning in 2005; however, Norhill Historic District began a four-year rebound in 2006. The appraised values of houses in Norhill Historic District increased rapidly enough to surpass Norhill South in 2007 and stay above Norhill South from that point forward.
• HCPP also projected that historic houses in the Norhill Historic District are much more likely to increase in value in the future than those in the non-designated neighborhood.
Download a pdf of the complete analysis of the study’s results from the UH Hobby Center for Public Policy website.
Greater Houston Preservation Alliance has provided HCPP’s findings to the mayor, City Council and local media.
Photo: Old Sixth Ward Protected Historic District (photo by Jim Parsons)