State Historic Preservation Office

Reuse Studies

Reuse studies of threatened historic properties explore new uses for them. While a study does not guarantee that a property will be saved, it assembles a team of experts and guides an orderly, informed process to decide the property's future. That process, adapted by the Minnesota SHPO from a National Trust model, is summarized below.

The SHPO may cosponsor a reuse study if the property meets these five criteria:

  • The property must be threatened, vacant or underused.
  • It must be listed on or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.
  • A unit of government, public agency or nonprofit organization must own it.
  • The local sponsor must provide funding.
  • The local sponsor must be willing to implement the plan.

The Process

The reuse study process is locally initiated, independent, objective, analytical and inclusive. It typically unfolds in four phases over a period of several months.

1. Startup

  • Identify a local liaison to serve as a point person for the local sponsor (a city, agency or nonprofit organization).
  • Hire a principal investigator (PI) to plan and conduct the study.
  • Gather information including community demographics, market studies, planning and zoning information, site information, historical information, blueprints, photographs, historic structures reports, and development proposals.
  • Assemble the team, which typically includes the PI, a preservation architect, development specialist and other specialists as required for study of the particular property and situation.
  • Schedule on-site activities such as orientation tours, interviews and a public meeting.

2. On Site

  • Tour the community to get a feel for unmet market needs, trends and potential tenants.
  • Assess the building's condition and site, noting special features or problems, and begin to estimate rehab requirements.
  • Conduct confidential interviews with community members representing many points of view.
    Goals:
    • to gauge public sentiment;
    • identify local issues that may affect the future of the property;
    • identify market opportunities that the property might serve and;
    • identify local resources to tap for rehabilitation.
  • Hold a public meeting to hear from people not interviewed earlier. (At this point the team does not yet share its preliminary findings or opinions.)

3. Analysis/Synthesis

  • Analyze the findings, identifying needs and opportunities.
  • Form recommendations within the context of physical, economic and political constraints. This process assumes recommending the preservation of the building under study. However, you may find that lack of an economically viable reuse of the building results in its eventual loss.
  • Produce a final report.

4. Implementation
Once the consultation is completed and the report issued, it is the responsibility of the community/local group to determine which recommendations can and should be implemented.

How much do reuse studies cost?
They range from $5,000 to $14,000. Your property may qualify for the Reuse Study Assistance Program.