Save the Clocktower! Advisory Council on Historic Preservation Chair Sara Bronin Joins The Planning Commission Podcast

We all love his­toric Main Streets and what they mean to a com­mu­ni­ty. The desire to pre­serve the feel of such places is at the of many local his­toric preser­va­tion efforts. The upper floors of those Main Street build­ings are also part of that Main Street’s , with many built as hous­ing that has since been zoned out as a per­mit­ted use.

That’s his­toric preser­va­tion, plan­ning, and afford­able hous­ing can come togeth­er to address com­mu­ni­ty needs while hon­or­ing our his­to­ry, accord­ing to Advi­so­ry Coun­cil on His­toric Preser­va­tion (ACHP) Chair Sara Bronin.

Bronin views preser­va­tion and com­mu­ni­ty goals like hous­ing afford­abil­i­ty as endeav­ors that go hand-in-hand. “Preser­va­tion looks at the exte­ri­or of the build­ing, while looks pri­mar­i­ly at the uses inside the build­ing,” Bronin told The Plan­ning Com­mis­sion Pod­cast. “If we allow peo­ple to con­vert exist­ing build­ings into two-unit, three-unit, four-unit or -unit dwellings, that’s some­thing that could help. If we’re lock­ing the out­side in stone, we don’t have to lock the inside in stone.”

Bronin dis­cuss­es efforts beyond Main Street to help address hous­ing needs, such as con­vert­ing his­toric mill prop­er­ties in and else­where into hous­ing and office space. “Those are often zoned for indus­tri­al devel­op­ments only.”

As ACH­P’s leader, Bronin address­es how the agency is adapt­ing its def­i­n­i­tion of his­toric preser­va­tion. While the preser­va­tion move­ment in the Unit­ed was found­ed on desires to pro­tect the prop­er­ties of the Found­ing Fathers, it has evolved with the coun­try to incor­po­rate full neigh­bor­hoods, places of his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance for women and diverse cul­tures. ACHP is now exam­in­ing tra­di­tion­al cul­tur­al prop­er­ties and how to adapt to cli­mate change.

“One of the hot top­ics at fed is how do we know some­thing is sig­nif­i­cant?,” said Bronin. “Do we rely only on text­books and peo­ple with doc­tor­al degrees or do we actu­al­ly rely on peo­ple with lived and knowl­edge about their com­mu­ni­ties.”

The Plan­ning Com­mis­sion is a spir­it­ed debate by plan­ners, for plan­ners. This inde­pen­dent out­let for all plan­ning explores the seri­ous and lighter sides of the pro­fes­sion, pos­es prob­ing and cre­ative ques­tions to guests, and always pairs the episode guest and top­ic with a choice liba­tion. Lis­ten to the pod­cast for a spe­cial offer from Plan­e­ti­zen.

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