What the Notre Dame Fire Tells Us About the Social Purpose of Real Estate

Notre Dame Is Prompting Discussions About Social Impact Real Estate and New Models for Old Establishments

Why It Matters

Notre Dame will be rebuilt, much of it with philanthropic money, prompting healthy debates on wealth, inequality, and impact. Adjacent to these debates, is the social purpose role real estate plays in communities today and the changing nature of real estate within the world of impact.

Churches and other historic urban properties make up a great historical fabric of our communities—particularly our older communities. They are all under threat, however, due to aging structures, fewer parishioners, and not enough money to protect and modernize these buildings.

Most of the groups supporting these buildings do not have the capital or expertise needed to maintain them under ever-stricter regulations.

With no one clear funding model in sight, things can seem dire, though creative things are happening in different communities to maintain these buildings. In order for this to happen, it takes acknowledgement of the value these historic buildings provide to the community in modern times—and some degree of understanding as to how heritage buildings are kept and maintained.

As we saw with the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, fire is a key concern, es


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