PAM receives $15,000 grant for preservation real estate study

Although I wish it were, it’s not every day that I open the mail and there’s a $15,000 check to help support the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota (PAM).  I had that joy today when I opened an envelope from the 1772 Foundation.  I was speechless; so rarely am I speechless like this that Emily took a picture.  Why was I speechless??  This generous grant from the 1772 Foundation is funding what we believe will be the beginning of a new way for PAM to achieve our mission and that is through direct real estate work.


So, what’s the money for??

PAM applied to the 1772 Foundation for a $15,000 grant to complete a feasibility study on the establishment of a Minnesota revolving fund program.  The purpose for the feasibility study is to evaluate if there is a need across the state for a real estate program focused on historic properties.  The study will look to: 1) identify the types and numbers of historic properties that are not being served by the existing real estate market; 2) establish the systemic or particular issues preventing the successful reuse of these properties; 3) identify how a revolving fund would bring about defined success; and, 4) lay out a framework for the way PAM can be successful at doing this work.


What’s a revolving fund??

Well, you may be fooled by that word “fund” in that this is more of a program than a bank account.  A revolving fund is a term across the country used to describe a program focusing on historic property development.  Think of it as a well-stocked toolbox with the right wrench, screwdriver, or hammer to fit a particular job.  In this case, saving an historic property is the “job” and the “tools” can be anything from taking a purchase option and marketing a property to entering into a façade easement agreement.


Does PAM have a revolving fund?

Yes and no.  Yes, we do operate programs that are tools in that toolbox.  These would include our façade easement program, our real estate agent training course, some real estate listings on our website, and small equity investments in the toughest of projects.  This is far from what you’d call a “stocked” toolbox.  Even Norm Abrahams would be hard-pressed to create resounding successes from the tools we have available.  We believe expanding our revolving fund will increase our capacity to achieve our mission and our credibility with other developers and owners of historic places.

But, before we expand, we need to know what’s needed out there, if we can help, and how best we can help.  Enter the feasibility study.


What’s the plan of action?

With this amazing grant in hand from the 1772 Foundation, PAM has the green light to move forward with our feasibility study.  We will issue an RFP in the next few weeks for consultants to complete the study.  Please check back at our website for the RFP posting.  We expect the study to be complete in a period of six months.  The study’s results will guide our efforts as to if and how PAM will move forward.


Why is direct property work important to a nonprofit like PAM?

This project matters because it demonstrates PAM’s belief that historic preservation is economic development.  Our existing programs have returned on our investment in this belief.  The Minnesota Main Street Program has begun to track its return on investment in its communities.  In just the first seven months of the program, the Minnesota Main Street Program demonstrated a return of $15.73 to the local communities for every $1 spent running the program.  A total of 14 facades were rehabilitated, 42 jobs created, and over $5 million was invested in these downtowns.  Similarly, PAM’s effort to pass the Minnesota state historic preservation tax credit was focused on economic development and job creation.  In its first year, the program returned $9.20 to the State for every $1 invested, one of the best ROI statistics in the nation for such programs.  A total of 14 projects moved ahead because of this incentive, thereby creating nearly 3,000 direct, indirect, and induced jobs.


PAM believes our revolving fund will have a similarly substantial economic development impact, especially in that no other entity has such a program focused on historic resources statewide.  PAM will not move forward on a revolving fund program without a feasibility study to guide our process.  Thus, it is the key to a program that will have targeted local impact, and a long-term, statewide impact.


Why is the 1772 Foundation supporting this work?

Thanks to its original benefactor, the late Stewart B. Kean, the 1772 Foundation provides financial support for targeted restoration and agricultural projects throughout the United States.  Based in Connecticut, the 1772 Foundation makes grants nationwide in the areas of revolving funds for endangered properties, African-American history, agriculture and sustainable food systems, and for specific historic preservation efforts in New Jersey, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.


Please keep checking back to our website, on our Facebook page, and on Twitter for updates about our feasibility study and its results.  Thank you, again, to the 1772 Foundation for making this work possible.





Bonnie McDonald

Executive Director


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