Blog Viewer

Historic Real Estate Finance Training: Part Two

January 31, 2019 | Historic Real Estate Finance Training: Part Two | 


Participants gather for a tour of Downtown Decatur, Georgia, our host community for part two of the Historic Real Estate Finance training series.

Last week, the Main Street America Institute (MSAI) hosted participants from across the country in Decatur, Georgia for part two of the Historic Real Estate Finance Training series. Building on the content and discussions generated in Des Moines, Iowa in part one of the series, participants deepened their knowledge of structuring real estate deals using historic tax credits and other incentives. While the participants anxiously await the results of final exams, the program left this group of commercial district professionals with a strengthened ability to shepherd development projects in their communities – from assessing project costs to navigating negotiations. This increased capacity would not have been possible without the generous support of The 1772 Foundation, the knowledge and energy of our instructor, Corey Leon, and our partners at the National Development Council.

The Program

Part two of the Historic Real Estate Finance series, “Problem Solving and Deal Structuring,” pushed participants to apply what they learned in part one of the series to development deals wherein the answers are not clear cut. As many Main Streeters know, seldom will a great project come along where all the chips fall into place. Equipped with awareness of how different tax incentives and transactions function, the group was challenged to structure a deal that met the needs of all stakeholders through a rigorous process. By evaluating the problem through multiple view points and considering the negotiating strength and motivations of each player, a deal can be reached that puts the project in motion. When Main Street is at the table, the needs of business owners, local government, property owners and developers can be weighed in the process.

The experience also included a tour of Downtown Decatur, a Georgia Downtown Affiliate member. Assistant City Manager for Community & Economic Development, Lyn Menne, led participants on a tour of projects aimed at a Smart Growth agenda laid out by the city to reignite development of the downtown commercial corridor. As a historic courthouse square bifurcated by a MARTA train station, the city has recognized the lasting effects of urban renewal and strategically rehabilitated the core of the district while creating a destination for dining and retail.


Lyn Menne of the City of Decatur explains the process of saving the historic building fabric of the downtown core while the MARTA station (18 feet below this plaza) was being constructed.

What Participants Said

Over these two courses, participants have grown from understanding the basics of a pro forma to creating development plans for vacant and historic buildings in their own communities. From the details in the numbers to the big picture of navigating the players and resources, the program will give these participants the ability to activate historic resources throughout their careers:

“I took the course not knowing exactly what I'd learn or how I'd use it; I just knew we needed more development in our downtown and I hoped this would help me understand how to get started. It was well worth my time and my organization's investment. I learned more in just one day about development in historic downtowns than I could have imagined. The coursework was rigorous and challenging, but it helped me understand the terminology and concepts that go into development. I made lasting friendships with others in the course, and I look forward to us keeping in touch about our various projects. After I returned home, I met with the local economic development authority and we have started outlining the options for several vacant properties in our downtown.  I'm already able to see how we can make transformational change in our downtown.” – Megan Tsui, Director, Red Wing (MN) Downtown Main Street

"By taking the historic real estate finance courses through NDC, I now more fully understand the financing mechanisms of historic projects and why redevelopment of historic properties sometimes pose a challenge in our communities. Using the information I learned, I can now better evaluate the state's investment in revitalization projects, look for opportunities to leverage our state resources and help to increase our communities' awareness of additional resources that are out there for redevelopment projects." – Joy Rumley, Community Revitalization Specialist, Virginia Main Street

What’s Next?

The Historic Real Estate Finance program is intended to have lasting impact; our goal is to keep in touch with participants over to see that successful projects are taking shape. Beyond making individual projects come to life, participation in the program gives members of the Main Street network more knowledge and resources to play a larger role in all aspects of commercial district revitalization. On behalf of all participants, we greatly appreciate the support of The 1772 Foundation in recognizing the value of professional development for Main Street managers to increase their leadership capacity. The Main Street America Institute hopes to be able to offer continued educational offerings in this topic and will continue to work the National Development Council to find innovative ways to bring historic real estate development knowledge to our communities. If you are interested in future opportunities, email us at

We also extend special thanks to the City of Decatur, Georgia including staff of Decatur Active Living and the Office of Economic Development, as well as our colleagues at Georgia Mainstreet.

If you are interested in learning more about the Main Street America Institute, visit Questions? Email us at or call 312-610-5619.