Now in its third year, Scripps' HGTV network's “Restore America” public-affairs initiative, in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, provides $1 million grants to return 12 sites across America to their former glory. For the cities where the renovations take place, it's a master stroke of publicity for the network and for cable systems that share in the reflected attention.
This year, the grants will serve a broader purpose because each site selected will aid in the revitalization of the surrounding community. More than 120 grant applications arrive annually for consideration. In addition to the donation, the grant award for each site includes a PSA that runs on HGTV several times a day and a video vignette featured on HGTV.com.
A Restore America grant event kicks off in February 2006 and centers on the Pacific Electric Building in downtown Los Angeles. Partners in the restoration include HGTV, the National Trust, the local Los Angeles cable operators, and advertising sponsors Bank of America, Lowe's, and Marvin Windows and Doors. The 500,000-square-foot 1905 edifice will undergo an adaptive reuse conversion to 314 loft apartments while also restoring the building's storefronts, re-creating access to the ground-floor façade and returning the building to its turn-of-the-century configuration.
“Restoring these storefronts represents more than just good preservation,” says Linda Dishman, executive director, Los Angeles Conservancy. “This transformation will transform a bricked-up facade to a revitalized retail area, reactivating the streetscape and providing amenities for our emerging downtown community.”
Other grants, ranging from $15 to $100,000, have gone to the Lucien Moore House in Detroit, Incardonia's in New Orleans, the 800 Block of Mellon Street in Pittsburgh, and the Jefferson Davis Hospital in Houston. In the last, an eyesore is being transformed into apartments in the lower- to middle-class area where good, affordable housing is scarce.
“The historic and cultural resources of a community tell the story of its past and make each community distinct,” says Richard Moe, president, National Historic Trust for Historic Preservation. “From homes and schools to sacred sites and neighborhood shops, these places provide a tangible link to the people and events that shaped our country. Preserving the physical sense of place is essential [for] instilling civic pride.”
BUILDING HOMES WITH HABITAT
Likewise, for several years, Scripps Network's DIY (Do It Yourself) digital network has had a partnership with Habitat for Humanity and the Jimmy Carter Works Project, two grassroots homebuilding efforts that rally local communities to show up, grab a hammer and help out. Habitat found the sites and provided the material and manpower, and DIY, as a project sponsor, did simulcast feeds while also airing several Habitat-centered programs.
On Dec. 11, DIY will air the Jimmy Carter Works Project/Habitat efforts in Benton Harbor, Mich., and Detroit.