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Historic preservation is “a real, functioning, viable tool that links land use planning and economic development,” said city Historic Preservation Specialist Troy Ainsworth. It can also be a driver for heritage tourism for Las Cruces, which has “a well-maintained stock of historic buildings” that offer a “unique sense of place” to visitors.
Historic properties and neighborhoods are also “intangible but invaluable assets” in terms of Las Cruces’ quality of life, Ainsworth said. Their preservation and restoration can help city infill development efforts and drive low-intensity commercial uses.
There are likely 1,500-2,000 historic properties, both public and private, in the City of Las Cruces, Ainsworth said. Some were built by famous architects, including Henry Trost of El Paso, and some are “vernacular” architecture, meaning they were built without an architect.
Long before the city was laid out in 1848, Ainsworth said, local property owners were already preparing ground, raising walls, putting in doors and windows and building roofs to create livable, inhabitable homes.
Making historic preservation a part of public policy also allows Las Cruces to apply for federal funding to help pay for historic preservation projects like a building inventory, National Register of Historic Places nominations and access to low-interest loans and grants to help property owners pay for restoration projects, Ainsworth said.