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Historic Preservation Community Assessment Program

The Michigan Historic Preservation Network (MHPN) is accepting applications from interested Michigan communities for the purpose of selecting one to conduct a two-phase Community Assessment to gauge the historic preservation ethic of the community. The assessment involves collecting, evaluating, and interpreting information from numerous sources, including: two online surveys of residents, community leaders and government officials; review of documents; meetings with community group leaders and government officials; and in-person site visits. The assessment is intended to provide the community with a snapshot of their current historic preservation ethic and efforts and create a blueprint of recommendations and resources for advancing historic preservation in the community.

Applications will be received until February 28, 2019, 5:00 PM EST

The Community Assessment Program must be completed by July 31, 2019

Program Benefits:

  • Connect outside resources, like SHPO staff, to the community through the site visits and a brand new Preservation Pop-up program MHPN launches this year. The pop-up brings preservation professionals to the community to hold “office hours” accessible to residents during one day. This pop-up can correspond with a community fair or festival and can occur in August or September if needed.
  • One educational preservation program, like Preservation 101 or Researching your Old Building, presented by MHPN staff at no cost to increase preservation exposure and knowledge in the community
  • Build community engagement through the survey and site visit process
  • Strengthen programs like Main Street and CLG, if the community is already involved
  • Report includes step-by-step action items to help the community move forward and achieve their preservation goals
  • Objectives on a preservation scale allow for measurable growth over time
  • Opportunity to take follow-up Phase I surveys in six months and one year to track progress

Program Description:

Through the partnership of the Michigan Historic Preservation Network (MHPN), the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), the Community Assessment serves as a community engagement process to identify a community’s historic preservation ethic on a scale and provide actionable steps to increase historic preservation awareness and integration in to community planning. The Community Assessment has two phases. The first phase requires one local government official best suited to know what is happening throughout the community pertaining to historic preservation to take a brief on-line questionnaire. The second phase begins community engagement through three site visits by MHPN staff and the opening of the community-wide online questionnaire. An effective community assessment hinges on the local community encouraging broad participation in the online survey and engagement during the three MHPN site visits.

Each of the three site visits has a specific goal:

1) Site visit 1: MHPN meets with local committee formed to implement the Community Assessment. MHPN staff review the results of the Phase I questionnaire. MHPN and local committee finalize promotion of the Phase II Community Assessment online survey and community engagement strategies.

2) Site visit 2: The Community Assessment committee schedules meetings with local business and/or property owners of old buildings for MHPN staff to meet with. The committee and MHPN staff will walk the downtown and other older areas of the community.

3) Site visit 3: Conclusion of the Community Assessment with a presentation of findings and recommendations to local leadership and members of the community.

The whole process should be completed within four months.

To ensure community engagement and a timely completion of the assessment, a Community Assessment committee must be formed to serve as the local advocates of the Community Assessment, schedule and plan the three site visits, and be a primary point of contact for the MHPN staff. This committee must be comprised of no fewer than three individuals representing various stakeholders throughout the community. The committee must be committed throughout the community assessment process and agree to spearhead the process to begin one of the three top recommendations produced from the assessment.

Both of the Community Assessment questionnaires are online and can only be completed online. Interested communities must think of ways to distribute the links and provide opportunities for those residents who many not have internet access to also participate and engage with the survey.

During the process, MHPN staff provides many resources to the community, including the survey questions and web links to the online survey, language for promotion and notifications, three site visits and conference calls as needed, a no-cost preservation presentation, Preservation Pop-up, and a final report compiling findings, recommendations, and resources for the committee as it works on executing the recommendations outlined in the final report.

Applicant Requirements:
Applicant must:
1. be one of the following: municipality or non-profit organization partnering with the local government in the State of Michigan.
2. agree to provide marketing, press opportunities, and advertise the program to the community and distribute the link to the online survey.
3. encourage historic preservation in their community
4. identify and commit to provide staff or a volunteer that is assigned to assist in preliminary coordination as well as be available during the length of assessment
5. provide meeting spaces for the three site visits. The first two site visit meeting locations can be in a smaller space, but the third community presentation must allow for a PowerPoint presentation and must comfortably seat at least 50 people.
6. create a Community Assessment committee of at least three people representing various stakeholders in the community. This committee must dedicate time to distribute and engage community members in the Phase II survey and attend the three site visits. Additionally, this committee will work towards the completion of one of the three top recommendations outlined in the final report.

Please submit answers to the following questions accurately and to the best of your ability. Submissions shall be emailed to before 5:00 pm February 28th, 2019.

For questions, contact Mallory Bower, MHPN Southeast Michigan Field Representative, at or (313) 649-7453 or Ellen Thackery, MHPN Deputy Director, at or (517) 371-8080.

Applicant Information
1) Name of Applicant (Applicant must be either a municipality or non-profit organization):
2) Community Initiatives (i.e. Main Street, DDA, CLG, Rising Tide, etc):
3) Primary Contact Person:
4) Address:
5) Phone:
6) Email:
7) Website:

Importance of Historic Preservation to Local Community

8) Provide a letter of support from city leadership noting commitment to the Community Assessment process and agreeing to complete the Phase I questionnaire within two weeks of the survey link being submitted.
9) Why is the community/non-profit interested in the Community Assessment Program?
10) Identify which community organizations the applicant will engage during this process. Include the name and contact information of the no fewer than three individuals who agree to serve on the community assessment committee. If you are a Main Street community, your design committee may serve as this committee.
11) Briefly describe the old building stock within the community, both commercial and residential. Are there any historic designations (National Register, State Historical Markers, local historic districts) within the community? Are there any plans to pursue any designations?
12) Does the municipality have a staff member that has historic preservation as a part of their job description? Describe their role in the community and how they may help with the Community Assessment.
13) How does the community/committee intend to promote the Phase II survey to the community to maximize community participation and engagement?
14) What locations are available for the first two site visits and the final community preservation? List these locations and capacity. Locations must be handicapped accessible.
15) Referring to the proposed timeline on page 1, note any community events that might be opportunities to plan and/or promote the Community Assessment or coincide with the Preservation Pop-up program.

Applicant / Community Selection

The successful applicant will be located in a community that has encouraged historic preservation and commits to dedicating community resources to increasing the community’s historic preservation ethic following the suggestions outlined in the final report. The selected community and applicant will agree to work closely with MHPN staff during the planning and implementation of the Community Assessment.

MHPN reserves the right to make its selection based on its sole judgment and further reserves the right to reject any and all applications.

MHPN Overview:
MHPN, formed in 1981, is the statewide non-profit organization in Michigan that advocates for our historic places to contribute to our economic vitality, sense of place, and connection to our past. In those 37 years, we have educated communities on the critical role of preservation in economic development, assisted in the creation of dozens of local historic districts, led the charge to re-establish a state historic tax credit, provided technical training for building trades, and created a network for preservationists to exchange ideas. We have also established preservation easement and real estate investment programs to assist in the protection and rehabilitation of important historic properties.

Our Preservation Services include two field representatives and a Detroit preservation specialist who provide coaching, workshops and technical information to help our prime constituents – leaders of local preservation organizations, municipalities, historic district commissions, friends groups, as well as other owners and investors in historic properties. Additionally, MHPN works to help close funding gaps through programs like small grant awards through the Michigan Preservation Fund within the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and intervention and predevelopment loans. Through our public policy work, we advocate for tax credits, funding, incentives, and effective planning tools needed to save and revitalize historic structures.

MHPN is looking forward to working with the successful applicant to conduct this valuable program which will provide an important opportunity to engage the community in historic preservation and receive a thorough written report with action steps on how to further preservation in the community to ensure a place where the past enhances today’s experiences.

This Community Assessment is made possible through funding from the
Michigan State Historic Preservation Office and the
Michigan State Housing Development Authority

Download program information