Our Team

PlaceEconomics is a private sector firm with over thirty years experience in the thorough and robust analysis of the economic impacts of historic preservation. We conduct studies, surveys, and workshops in cities and states across the country that are addressing issues of downtown, neighborhood, and commercial district revitalization and the reuse of historic buildings. We specialize in quality, defensible research, and present findings clearly and effectively in formats that can be understood by academics, economists, mayors, city council members, property owners, and local stakeholders alike.


Donovan Rypkema

Donovan Rypkema

Principal, drypkema@placeeconomics.com

Donovan D. Rypkema is principal of PlaceEconomics, a Washington, D.C.-based real estate and economic development-consulting firm. The work of the firm is at the nexus of historic preservation and economics. He has undertaken assignments for public and non-profit sector clients in 49 US states. He also teaches a course on the economics of historic preservation at the University of Pennsylvania where he received the 2008 G. Holmes Perkins Award for Distinguished Teaching.

Rypkema was educated at Columbia University receiving a Master of Science degree in Historic Preservation. He is author of several publications including Community Initiated Development, The Economics of Rehabilitation, and the Feasibility Assessment Manual for Reusing Historic Buildings. Rypkema’s book, The Economics of Historic Preservation: A Community Leader’s Guide is widely used by preservationists nationwide and has been translated in to Russian, Georgian, and Korean.

Rypkema has worked with such groups as the Urban Land Institute, the Mayors’ Institute on City Design, the American Planning Association, Smart Growth America, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the International Downtown Association. Federal Government clients have included the U.S. Army, the Department of State, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Interior, and the Advisory Council for Historic Preservation for whom he prepared a report entitled Measuring Economic Impacts of Historic Preservation.

In the fall of 2012 Rypkema received the Louise du Pont Crowninshield Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The Crowninshield Award is the nation’s highest preservation honor and awarded for lifetime contribution to historic preservation in the United States.


Rodney Swink

Rodney Swink, FASLA, PLA

Senior Associate for Planning and Development, rswink@placeeconomics.com

Rodney Swink, FASLA, PLA, is Senior Associate for Planning and Development at PlaceEconomics. A licensed landscape architect, he is also a Professor of the Practice at North Carolina State University’s College of Design and an independent consultant to local governments, nonprofits, and firms interested in community development and downtown revitalization. From 1984-2008, Swink served as director of the North Carolina Main Street Program and Director of North Carolina Office of Urban Development. During his tenure he provided Main Street assistance via workshops, resource teams and training in fifteen states.

Throughout his career, Swink has been a leader on numerous boards and commissions. He recently chaired the City of Raleigh (NC) Planning Commission, the Board of Directors for Preservation North Carolina and the Board of Advisors for the J.C. Raulston Arboretum. He also served as national president of the American Society of Landscape Architects and Chair of the ASLA Council of Fellows. He attended North Carolina State University and achieved both a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and a Master of Landscape Architecture with a concentration in community planning and urban economics. Over the past three decades, Swink has won a variety of prestigious awards for his work in historic preservation, landscape architecture, and his humanitarian- and community-focused work. He has published a range of articles for the National Trust for Historic Preservation and publications including Raleigh Downtowner Magazine, Planetizen, Main Street News, and Carolina Planning. He was also a contributor to Shaping the Postwar Landscape.


Katlyn Cotton

Katlyn Cotton

Director of Communications and Design, kcotton@placeeconomics.com

Katlyn Cotton is the Director of Communications and Design at PlaceEconomics. She is responsible for social media marketing and brand management, and she is the firm’s resident graphic design guru. Katlyn also contributes to data analysis, policy research, and writing in support of the firm’s city- and statewide economic impact studies, Main Street Studies, and incentives development.

One of the greatest challenges of research is dissemination–the findings of any study are only so useful as they are accessible and comprehensible. Katlyn likes to explore new ways to present and share information, be that through eye-catching design, funky infographics, or videography.

Katlyn’s research interests lie at the intersection of historic preservation and social justice – she approaches preservation through the lens of equity: “But for whom are we preserving? Who benefits?” For her, data and spatial analysis are critical tools for the ethical development of cities, as they paint powerful images of the distribution of capital, community assets, and resources through space. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Program, where she focused on preservation policy and planning. In her free time, she organizes for tenants’ rights and police reform in Washington DC and the DMV area.


Alyssa Frystak

Alyssa Frystak

Director of Research and Data Analytics, afrystak@placeeconomics.com

Alyssa Frystak is the Director of Research and Data Analytics at PlaceEconomics. She is responsible for data acquisition and preparation, methodology development, and analysis, and is well versed in GIS, census data, municipal data, as well as various other data resources. Alyssa’s interest lies at the intersection of historic preservation, affordable housing, urban planning, and public policy and investigating ways in which these distinct, yet interconnected disciplines can be used to break down racial and socioeconomic barriers to preserve communities. Her masters thesis, “Small but Mighty: Combatting the Affordable Housing Crisis Through Small-Scale Historic Rehabilitation,” was an exploration of these interests. In it, she examined the tools, incentives, and policies that help preserve and create subsidized and unsubsidized affordable housing in designated and non-designated buildings. She holds a Master of Science in Historic Preservation from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she was the inaugural recipient of the Mencoff Family Fellowship in Historic Preservation, a Bachelor of Arts in Architectural Studies from the University of Illinois at Chicago, as well as a Graduate Certificate in Geospatial Analysis and Visualization. She is the Partnership Subcommittee Chair for Skyline Council, Landmarks Illinois’ committee for young and emerging professionals. She also serves on the National Board of Directors for Preservation Action Foundation. Prior to entering the field, she was a professional ballet dancer, spending five seasons with the Milwaukee Ballet and Saint Louis Ballet. When not geeking out over old buildings, Alyssa, a Chicago native, can be found exploring all 77 of Chicago’s vibrant neighborhoods, antiquing, collecting vinyl, taste testing all the chocolate she can find, trying not to kill her plants, or spending time with her cat, Sophie.


Starr-Herr Cardillo

Content Writer, shcardillo@placeeconomics.com

Starr Herr-Cardillo is a Content Writer at PlaceEconomics. She loves working directly with people to understand how and why they value and care for older places and is particularly interested in the creative ways they can be adapted and interpreted. Most recently, she has worked as a Project Manager with the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Architectural Conservation to develop Conservation Management Plans for the Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation’s first hospital, and San Xavier del Bac, an 18th century mission church near her hometown of Tucson, Arizona. She was inspired to enter the field by a deep appreciation for the southwestern landscape, adobe vernacular architecture, and regional building traditions. Before applying to the Master’s program at Penn, she earned a certificate in heritage conservation from the University of Arizona. Starr’s interests are wide-reaching, and she frequently writes about preservation issues as a freelancer for various publications. At PlaceEconomics, Starr helps collect and convey qualitative data by conducting interviews, surveys, writing sidebar stories for reports, curating a bi-weekly preservation ews roundup and writing for our PlaceBlog.

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