SEATTLE—A new research report demonstrates howneighborhoods that protect and find new uses for older,smaller buildings are more economically sustainable,culturally vibrant, and opportunity-rich than those with onlylarger, newer buildings.

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The report, Older, Smaller, Better: Measuring Howthe Character of Buildings and Blocks Influences UrbanVitality, was published by the National Trustfor Historic Preservation.
The study shows how neighborhoods with a mix of older and newerbuildings outperform newer neighborhoods in terms of opportunitiesfor small locally-owned businesses and for local cultural outlets.Older neighborhoods are highly walkable, appeal toyoung professionals and retirees, and offer a wide array of artsand entertainment options.
"The National Trust's research of neighborhoods with older, smallerbuildings is the first comprehensive study of the relationshipbetween cities' historic buildings and prosperity," saidStephanie Meeks, president of the trust. "Theeconomic growth of communities is enhanced by preserving ourhistoric neighborhoods. These areas attract more young, talentedprofessionals, contain more businesses per commercial square footand offer more creative jobs than areas with only larger, newerbuildings."
The report was produced by the Preservation GreenLab, an initiative of the National Trust for HistoricPreservation, with offices in Seattle, Denver andLos Angeles. The Preservation Green Lab worksclosely with local, state and national partners to developinnovative content, strategic partnerships, research and publicpolicies that save places.

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"For years, people have been pushing density above all else,"said Mike Powe, Ph.D., lead researcher for thePreservation Green Lab. "With our goal of supporting localbusinesses and neighborhoods, we now know from the insights in thisreport that how we build and what type of structures we maintainmatters tremendously to the success of these communities."

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Older, Smaller, Better Key findings:

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-- Older, mixed-use neighborhoods are morewalkable.
-- Young people love old buildings.
-- Nightlife is most vibrant on streets with adiverse range of building
ages.
-- Cultural outlets thrive in older, mixed-useneighborhoods.
-- Older business districts offer greateropportunities for
entrepreneurship, including women andminority-owned businesses.
-- Older, smaller buildings support the localeconomy with more non-chain,
locally owned businesses.
-- Older business districts have morebusinesses per commercial square
foot.

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Older, Smaller, Better ResearchMethodology:
The research for this report was conducted in three cities:Seattle, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. It relied on spatialanalysis to determine the relative role of building age, diversityof age, and size, alongside other measures. More than 40performance metrics were considered, including cultural vibrancy,real estate performance, transportation options and intensity ofhuman activity.

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The research represents the culmination of the first phase of amulti-year project, starting in three cities that were chosen basedon their "hot market" status. A second phase is underway to look atmarkets with higher levels of vacancy and disinvestment.

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The research was funded by The Summit Foundation, TheKresge Foundation and the Prince CharitableTrusts. The Preservation Green Lab worked with a team ofkey collaborators, including State of Place,Gehl Studio--A Gehl ArchitectsCompany, and Impresa, Inc.

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David Phillips

David Phillips is a Chicago-based freelance writer and consultant with more than 20 years experience in business and community news. He also has extensive reporting experience in the food manufacturing industry for national trade publications.