Trails in Indiana

The Economic Impact in a Healthy Community

Who Knew?
Who knew historic tax credits could help solve the obesity problem? Who knew historic tax credits could be the ultimate jobcreator? Who knew the credits could generate $1.78 in taxes for every $1.00 spent; stop brain flight from a city; enable a city to be named one of a Dozen Distinctive Destinations in the United States and be home to one of the American Planning Association’s Great Streets in America?
Eric Friedman, of the Friedman Group, Ltd., a community economic and real estate development company in St. Louis, MO, considered these possibilities and then made them a reality throughout the State of Missouri and more specifically in St. Louis, MO.
Realizing that strength is in numbers; Friedman utilized creative and diverse coalitions throughout the state to create this tax credit program that is supported in both urban and rural development locations. You can find more information here.
Begun in 1998; the historic tax credits have been used to transform sites and districts into destination streets and neighborhoods that appeal to the Millennial Generation (80 million people). Otherwise known as the Creative Class, they have been found to choose where they want to live and then find the job there.
Who wouldn’t want to live on or within a walkable distance of a street that:
  1. Provides orientation to its users, and connects well to the larger pattern of ways.
  1. Balances the competing needs of the street — driving, transit, walking, cycling, servicing, parking, drop-offs, etc.
  1. Fits the topography and capitalizes on natural features.
  1. Is lined with a variety of interesting activities and uses that create a varied streetscape.
  1. Has urban design or architectural features that are exemplary in design.
  1. Relates well to its bordering uses — allows for continuous activity, doesn't displace pedestrians to provide access to bordering uses.
  1. Encourages human contact and social activities.
  1. Employs hardscape and/or landscape to great effect.
  1. Promotes safety of pedestrians and vehicles and promotes use over the 24-hour day.
  1. Promotes sustainability through minimizing runoff, reusing water, ensuring groundwater quality, minimizing heat islands, and responding to climatic demands. 
  2. Is well maintained, and capable of being maintained without excessive costs. 
  3. Has a memorable character.
These are the characteristics of a Great Street as defined by the American Planning Association (APA).
A description of what makes a Great Place and a Great Neighborhood are also defined. 
The possibilities of using these types of tax credits in Indiana to transform our city into a desirable city may be overlooked. In the federal program, only 503 projects have been submitted statewide since 1999 to the Rehabilitation Investment Tax Credit Project. In Indiana, the historic tax incentive programs are managed by Department of Natural Resources Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology. Federal and state tax credit programs are available for residential and commercial sites with different restrictions.
The relationship between historic tax credits and obesity may not be as obvious as its contribution to place-making.
According to Friedman, it is projected that 80% of the population will be obese by the year 2030. The vimeo This is Bill, He Has Diabetes ( effectively tells the story of this connection. Using tools like the historic tax credits to create sustainable communities where the greenest building is considered one that is already built; can help decrease the associated projected cost of obesity of 800-900 billion dollars. Friedman says we can pay now or we can pay later. In Missouri, they have chosen the former with “national model” results. Eric Friedman of the “Show Me” state of Missouri is willing to assist the “Crossroads of America” state of Indiana to become more than an intersection of two roads, but rather where people choose to stop, live, work and play for a lifetime; all because of a historic tax credit. Now you Know
Article by Tina Jones