DATA-DRIVEN RIGHTSIZING: INTEGRATING PRESERVATION INTO THE LEGACY CITIES LANDSCAPE
Keywords: Historic preservation, heritage conservation, legacy cities, rightsizing, survey, data, rapid mobile surveying
Abstract. Legacy cities, whose built environments are undergoing transformations due to population loss, are at a critical juncture in their urban history and the historic preservation field has an important role to play. Rapid mobile surveys provide an opportunity for data collection that expands beyond traditional historic criteria, and positions preservationists to be proactive decision-makers and to align with multi-disciplinary partners. Rapid mobile surveys are being utilized in conjunction with in-depth data analysis of comprehensive livability metrics at the parcel, neighborhood, and citywide levels to develop recommendations for reactivating vacant properties. Historic preservationists are spearheading these efforts through a tool called Relocal, which uses 70–85 distinct metrics and a community priority survey to generate parcel-level recommendations for every vacant lot and vacant building in the areas in which it is applied. Local volunteer-led rapid mobile surveys are key to gathering on-the-ground, real-time metrics that serve as Relocal’s foundation. These new survey techniques generate usable data sets for historic preservation practitioners, land banks, planners, and other entities to inform strategic rightsizing decisions across legacy cities.