The opportunities and tensions of historic preservation and transit oriented development (TOD)

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

economics - subsidy, land use - planning, land use - transit oriented development, land use - urban density, place - north america, place - urban


Historic preservation, Transit, Transit oriented development, Infill


The article examines two research questions concerning historic preservation and TOD. First, what are the opportunities for and challenges to developing TODs in historic areas. Transit locations are often located in older historic areas and a restored or adaptively reused historic building can be an asset to a TOD because of the amenity it affords and its preservation of the linkage to the history of a place. There are other opportunities, such as the TOD capitalizing on an historic area's attractive and unique architectural style. At the same time, there may be tensions because as a TOD aims to maximize density near transit, pressure may mount to demolish lower density historic buildings. Second, what tools have been useful to preservationists, planners, developers, and communities for preserving historic buildings in TOD locations? Case studies of success and failure to combine historic preservation and TOD in six communities nationally in the United States showed that while the synthesis can be challenging it is feasible and results in distinctive and attractive developments. A key strategy included combining the federal historic tax credit and other subsidies. We observed other useful approaches, such as engaging stakeholders and place-making via local art and other means. Varying local conditions, however, argue against one set approach.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.