Historic Designations Explained

In answer to my question:

Thank you for your comments. They are always welcome. I am not trying to put all of the blame on the commission for failure to act, I am just asking why some properties are advocated for and some are not. Shouldn’t it be fair?

Lamar White, Jr. answers and explains as follows:

Andrea, in both instances– the Armour building and the Cotton Brothers Bakery Building– the advocacy began when individuals connected with those projects alerted the commission to act. This did not occur with 2401 Monroe Street.

But I must remind you that the Armour building is, in no way, a done deal. Although it has certainly gained a lot of attention (in large part because the non-profit that owns the building was seeking to use federal money, which required public attention), the situation has not materially changed. The City is doing what it can do– coordinating with the EPA, etc.– but ultimately, we’re all in need of preservation partners– other governmental agencies, non-profits, and private developers who are better suited to tackle this type of renovation and preservation project.

Regarding the ordinances: I understand the commission is in the process of drafting a new set of ordinances, and we are also looking into best practices from other municipalities.

But I think you may have some confusion about what, exactly, an historic declaration means. Believe it or not, the designation does not protect a property from demolition, even if it is on the National Register. The designation does, however, allow the property owner to enjoy the benefits of certain targeted tax credit programs.

For the most part, only a property owner can submit a property for consideration on the register.

Now, that said, there is a difference between a property being singled out as significant and an entire neighborhood being called a “historic district.” The HDPC can advise on the boundaries of any historic districts, but ultimately, the City Council must approve their recommendations. Again, currently, the HDPC does not have the authority to issue certificates of appropriateness. In fact, currently, the City does not issue certificates of appropriateness at all; there simply isn’t a mechanism in place yet.

I agree that the current ordinances are a little confusing.

Advocacy begins on an individual level– with people like you and your neighbors.

I hope that clears up some confusion. Let me know if there are any other questions I can answer.

Thank you Lamar for clearing that up.  I appreciate your time.  As always, I welcome accurate information and stand to be corrected. 

Andrea Warren

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