Thursday, February 02, 2006

Too Old To Die!

The National Trust for Historic Preservation in New Orleans and The Preservation Resource Center are attempting to prevent the demolition of many buildings in New Orleans deemed to be historic.

Next, the city hopes to demolish about 1,900 other buildings because they are deemed in danger of collapsing. The preservationists have looked at 199 of those buildings in the city's historic districts-many of them Creole cottages and cypress shotgun homes, trademark New Orleans structures based on French Caribbean and West African designs. The preservationists believe 71 are structurally sound and another 29 may be salvageable.

It looks the city and the preservationists have reached an agreement that is probably reasonable:

Greg Meffert, a city official who oversees permits and safety, said opponents to demolitions would have about three months to prove buildings should be removed from the demolition list. He said buildings that are found to be structurally sound could be saved.

While it would be a shame to demolish these historic structures, if they are indeed beyond repair, the city really has no choice to tear them down. The loophole that the preservationist have is that in order to be deemed beyond repair, often the inspectors will consider the cost of repair to greater that 50% the value of the building. Which is probably the case. The way out for the preservationist is to promise to the city is that a number of preservation organizations and individuals have pledged money to pay for the cost for repair. Assuming they have access to that kind of money. If I were them, I would immediately start requesting pledges from those interested and work out a deal.

In my experience, people in Safety & Permits can sometimes be pretty reasonable, if you talk nice to them. I'm sure the people in government would like to see historic building remain too.

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