Economic Hardship

Local Preservation Laws
| Authority to Regulate Property | Historic Designations | Reviewable Actions |
| Maintenance Requirements | Economic Hardship | Appeals and Enforcement | Other Land Use Laws

Preservation Law 101

| Federal Preservation Laws | State Preservation Laws | Local Preservation Laws | Constitutional Issues |

Many preservation ordinances provide for variances from the strict application of its rules in cases of economic hardship, and to a lesser extent, projects of special merit. Economic hardship provisions typically provide a variance from individual restrictions under the ordinance in situations where the owner demonstrates that he or she would otherwise be denied all reasonable or beneficial use of his or her property.

Factors typically considered include the property’s current rate of return; efforts to sell or list the property in its “as is” condition; the economic feasibility of alternative uses for the property; the extent to which the hardship is self-created; the claimant’s knowledge of the property’s designation or the likelihood of designation at the time the property was purchased; and the availability of any economic incentives or funding.

Special merit provisions enable individual buildings to be demolished or substantially altered when an overriding community objective, such as the need to construct a conference center, exists. For example, in the District of Columbia, a special merit project could include a building designed by an outstanding architect or a project necessary to achieve important social or community objectives.

Learn More

Economics of Historic Preservation: A Community Leader`s Guide
Since it was first published in 1994, The Economics of Historic Preservation: A Community Leader’s Guide has become an essential reference for any preservationist faced with convincing government officials, developers, property owners, business and community leaders, or his or her own neighbors that preservation strategies can make good economic sense.

Related Links