AMES, Iowa — Preservation and rehabilitation are much more effective than demolition to address “blight” in legacy cities (older industrial cities that have experienced sustained job and population loss over the past several decades), says Nancy Finegood, executive director of the nonprofit Michigan Historic Preservation Network.

Finegood will present “Vacant Not Blighted,” a free public lecture at 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 4, in 1030 Morrill Hall. Her talk is sponsored by the nonprofit Preservation Iowa and hosted by the CRP 421: Financing Historic Preservation Projects and Revitalizing Communities class, taught by Ted Grevstad-Nordbrock, ISU assistant professor of community and regional planning.

Cities like Detroit, Flint and Saginaw, Michigan, face enormous challenges with an abundance of vacant and abandoned buildings. Demolition is a necessary part of moving these cities forward, but “they can’t just demolish their way to revitalization,” Finegood said.

“Through strategic preservation and rehabilitation of commercial and residential structures, the dynamic can be changed one building at a time and demonstrate that just because it’s vacant doesn’t mean it’s blighted.”

She will share examples of surveys, technology and innovative programs as important tools in addressing “blighted” communities. The title of her talk is taken from a video of the same name developed to highlight efforts to preserve and rehabilitate structures in Detroit.

About the speaker

Finegood has been head of the Michigan Historic Preservation Network since 2002. She created the tax credit partnership that has been an instrumental partner on projects including the David Whitney Building and Broderick Tower developments and led the team that conducted the Detroit Historic Resource Survey. She works closely with land banks and nonprofit organizations in Michigan to advise, encourage and partner with them in their rehabilitation efforts.

Brick + Beam Detroit, an innovative program under the auspices of MHPN in partnership with Detroit Future City and Preservation Detroit, connects building rehabbers and local tradespeople with resources, support and each other. Also in Detroit, Finegood has worked with the Detroit Land Bank Authority since its inception and the MHPN has become a DLBA Community Partner, recently purchasing a DLBA home to rehabilitate as part of the MHPN Detroit Pilot Project in a “tipping-point neighborhood” to demonstrate the impact of preservation on community resilience.

Finegood is a board member of Preservation Action and the MotorCities National Heritage Area and a member of the Oakland County (Michigan) and Michigan Main Street advisory boards. She is an honorary affiliate of the Michigan chapter of the American Institute of Architects. She received the 2016 Advocate of the Year Award from the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan for her advocacy for resources that protect Michigan neighborhoods. She holds a BA in secondary education and an MBA with an accounting concentration, both from Wayne State University.


Ted Grevstad-Nordbrock, Community and Regional Planning, (515) 708-4022, tedgn@iastate.edu
Heather Sauer, Design Communications, (515) 294-9289, hsauer@iastate.edu