The Potential Economic Consequences of Flooding on Florida's Historic Communities
Publication Year: 2022

The Potential Economic Consequences of Flooding on Florida’s Historic Communities


Lahr, M., Ferreira ,J.P.,  de la Calle, M., Qiao, X. (2022). The Potential Economic Consequences of Flooding on Florida’s Historic Communities.  Storm Guidance for Florida’s Historic Communities.

State hazard plans demonstrate different levels of commitment in the manner in which they link historic resources and their preservation to mitigation plans. Compared to other hazards, like wildfires and tornadoes, planners have access to much more information on the degree to which historic resources are exposed to floods. With this in mind, the National Park Service’s (NPS’s) Certified Local Governments (CLG) program and the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Main Street program promote community resilience. Moreover, the State of Florida is a national leader in disaster planning and, in addition, has a particularly strong CLG program. Interestingly, about a quarter of the properties on Florida’s National Register (NR) sit within the 100-year flood plain and may therefore be vulnerable to flooding. Listings of historic properties (national, state, and local) associated with businesses tend to be buildings or districts of buildings. Most important to the aims of this study, districts associated with businesses typically include the downtown areas, often the focus of tourism and small-scale, retail-oriented economic development efforts. This high number of historic commercial sites in floodplains is a cause for concern by local landowners and local governments that we explore more thoroughly as “Main Street Program” economic impacts to the state. There is a consensus in the empirical literature that local historic districts generate price premia for properties within their boundaries.1 The magnitude of the premia naturally varies with the restrictiveness and degree of enforcement of local ordinances.2 If historic buildings within a historic district are compromised—for example, through premature demolition following a flood event—both the property owner and community lose a key asset. History, cultural heritage, and architectural value are lost, never to be recovered. Old places matter! 3 But more than just property price premia, historic resources bestow numerous other benefits to communities. They contribute to economic development through building preservation, heritage tourism, and business activity on main streets and along commercial corridors.4 Indeed, historic preservation is a natural policy for urban revitalization, particularly in aging central-city neighborhoods. Its historic aspect has near universal appeal a characteristic that new construction in declining neighborhoods lacks. They also provide a sense of place by helping to further educate local citizens of their area’s heritage.

Subject Areas

Urban Policy
Additional Topics