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This paper explores the problem of why the traditional model preservation, characterized by a strict and inflexible interpretation of the law, often fails in struggling communities. Particular emphasis is given to early industrial cities, where the existing urban infrastructure and difficult economic situation often conspire to make preservation exceptionally challenging. A solution is proposed for making preservation productive these distressed communities. Through a broader, and more flexible reading of existing law, a major preservation problem may be solved, and history can used as a valuable tool for growth and positive change.