Mapping Where History and Opportunity Meet

July 12, 2019 | Mapping Where History and Opportunity Meet | By Anthony Veerkamp, Shaw Sprague, and Dan Watts | 

Included in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, Opportunity Zones are perhaps the single largest new federal tax incentive in decades. Designed to spur private investment to revitalize distressed communities, Opportunity Zones have the potential to direct trillions of dollars in deferred capital gains taxes to transform 8,700 distressed census tracts—a prospect at once thrilling and alarming to preservationists and community activists.

The Tax Cut and Jobs Act that established Opportunity Zones did not detail exactly how the incentive would work in practice and the Department of Treasury has subsequently issued two sets of regulations to address questions about how the incentive is implemented. A year and a half after the creation of the incentive, it appears Opportunity Zones have yet to catalyze the amount of reinvestment originally envisioned as investors and financial markets have sought more clarity about how the incentive would work.  

To better understand the potential impact of Opportunity Zone investments on historic properties and preservation initiatives, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has created an interactive mapping application to highlight the intersection between National Register–listed historic districts, National Main Street Center main street districts, HTC projects, and the 8,700 Qualified Opportunity Zones (QOZs). The mapping application is designed to help the preservation community understand where historic buildings might benefit from responsible Opportunity Fund investments or might be at risk of demolition or inappropriate incentivized redevelopment.

Continue reading >

This article was originally published on the Preservation Leadership Forum’s blog.

Anthony Veerkamp was the former director of policy development for the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Research & Policy Lab. Dan Watts is the senior GIS project manager, and Shaw Sprague is the senior director of government relations.