What Local Historic District DOES NOT do: · Does not regulate paint colors · Does not require repairs or renovations to be made · Does not increase taxes beyond normal increases for the City or County · Does not prevent additions · Does not prevent non-contributing homes from being demolished · Does not require use of historic materials or historic building methods · Does not require that you open you home to the public · Does not restrict routine maintenance of properties
What Local Historic District DOES do: · Recognizes that Oakhurst has a distinctive historic character important to the overall character of the City of Decatur · Encourages creative and compatible development with historic areas · Requires that a Certificate of Appropriateness be obtained for exterior changes to contributing properties, demolition of buildings, and new construction. · Applies only to major renovations to the exterior of your home. Interior renovations are not restricted.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

What are the advantages of Local Historic District?

This is from a website for Rome, New York. The town has about 35,000 residents. More information regarding the City can be found at http://www.romenewyork.com/detail.asp?key=2201. It is an interesting perspective.

People purchase historic properties for many reasons . . .

Some like the idea of owning a "piece of history” and believe that quality of construction in older structures is superior to that found in modern structures. Large rooms, high ceilings, rich materials and intricate details are often an attraction. Other people simply like urban neighborhoods or rural areas in which historic properties are found. Established landscapes and mature plants and trees surrounding historic properties often add significant value. Properties in need of repair can often be purchased at a reduced price, enabling the purchaser to increase value through restoration and rehabilitation. Whatever the reason, it can be said that investing in historic properties and in historic districts helps preserve the history of the community for future generations to enjoy and learn. Historic districts have a unique sense of place desired by many people.

Owning property in a local historic district helps ensure that the neighborhood will be protected from unmanaged change. Because the review process requires public comment, neighboring property owners are usually given an opportunity to review and comment on alterations in their area before a decision is rendered. Owners have the security of knowing that neighboring properties will not suffer unsympathetic changes. Property owners historic districts are sometimes eligible to receive benefits not available to others in the city and are usually able to take advantage of preservation experts who work and volunteer for the city. Grant money may be available for professional design assistance, fa├žade renovation and other projects to help preserve the area, which may encourage new investment. Local, State and Federal tax incentives also become available to designated Historic District properties to encourage owners to improve their buildings and bring investment to core neighborhoods.


ante gamisou said...

No offense to any one as I really adore our bungalows, but we must understand that OUR bungalows are no more special than the millions of them found all over the city. Does making this neighborhood an historic district really make them more special than they already are? Is this a need for a status symbol? Or do some just want the tax incentives for their properties?

I'd really hate to break it to you, but these existing houses are NOT built better than new structures for the simple fact that current codes have improved the structural and energy efficiency qualities of new construction. It's common to find 2x8 floor joists in these existing houses and that's why all of our floors are sagging into a bowl shape. Today we have to use 2x12s as a minimum, but normally we use engineered I-joists made from recycled wood product. None of these existing buildings were insulated and now we are required to have R-13 in the walls and R-30 in the ceilings/rafters. The foundations often consist of solid brick piers sitting directly on the ground or with very pitiful concrete foundations. Today the pier itself must be concrete or concrete filled block. I could continue, but I think you get the point.

Reality check #2: the gold rush is over! Why do you think the renovators are getting fewer and further between? The easy to renovate structures are getting very hard to find, as they've been picked over. Most of the good ones are in the hands of people that want to keep them. The prices for tear downs is well over $200K and the ones in decent shape are in the $300s. This price structure makes the economics of renovating difficult when our property values are starting to dip. Anyone feeling anxious to go out and buy a bungalow to renovate and flip in this economic climate? This is a real good time to lose your shirt.

Although some of us are attracted to traditional design, this diverse neighborhood has many residents that are not opposed to a new and exciting architecture. Buildings use most of the world's total energy and we have a responsibility to build better. Why can't we build something better that matches our lifestyles and needs? Why be stuck in the past enjoying the nostalgia that brought us here while repeating the same old mistakes? Personally, I don't want some overly concerned, nosy neighbor trying to enforce their will on my home design. Is that really better? Who's to say your neighbor knows best? Who says the HPC will allow you to do something you feel is appropriate? Trust me, your design will most likely have to be compromised to make everyone happy from the HPC to your nosy neighbor.

More over, this is our chance to show the builders what we expect to see. Trust me, it is my business to keep on top of the future market trends as it affects my wallet. New construction is slowing down fast. Most of what you see are projects that were already started before the reality of the market's affect on Atlanta had taken hold. The homeowner will be doing most of the work for a while now and we can renovate our beautiful bungalows and set the example. We don't need an historic district to accomplish this, the market has done it for us.

Anonymous said...

Don't worry. Everything will be OK. Just look the other way. I am very uncomfortable with anyone telling me these things when we are talking about my biggest investment. In my opinion we have been telling our community leaders, our local government leaders, and the market place what we want in this neighborhood to what appears to be no avail. New construction is not selling for more than renovated homes in terms of square footage. I do not have any 2X8s in the construction of my old home. Are the good renovated homes really gone? I beg to differ. I have 6 relatively unrenovated homes on my small street alone. It is the opinion of the majority of developers that they can make more money tearing those homes down instead of renovating. For the prices they plan to charge for the new home they want the home to look bigger and more massive than the surrounding homes - even though they are only slightly larger. Mr. Rawlings makes a living from new construction and I understand his point of view, but what about my investment? I have heard so many people say "the modern family wants a 5 bedroom 4 bath house". Who is this modern family? The majority of my neighbors have 2 kids in their bungalows - without an addition. Why have they not snatched up every new construction home that enters the market? Why have they not moved away? Did you know Decatur has been losing enrollment in their schools for several years running. Why? Empty nesters like it here too. So do gay and straight couples without children. So do people who want and do live alone. Do we really want to only gear our neighborhood towards a marketing tool called the modern family? Yes, new construction has slowed - thank goodness. But that does not mean we need to let our community and local government leaders rest on this issue. Economic conditions are temporary. Plus, did you read the post here about how the majority of LHDs in the country fair better than their non LHD counterparts during economic or housing downturns. No, that is not good for the developers, but it is good for me and my neighbors.

Anonymous said...

I'm a real estate agent and I agree with just about everything anonymous said. One point he/she may not know is that in general the more square footage a house is the less per square foot a house is worth compared to other houses in a neighborhood. It could be that bungalows are more in demand than new construction and do get more per square foot because of that but this is not a fact that is easily proven. The new construction prices in the past sky rocketed because the supply was so small. Yes more people are looking for bungalows then new construction but in the past more people were looking for new construction than there was new construction on the market in Oakhurst. That has since changed and we are sitting on about 20 new construction houses in Oakhurst and the prices are going down, down, down. THANK GOD! But there are some hard headed builders that are still tearing down perfectly good bungalows and expecting to get $700k+ for the replacement. This is still a big problem and will continue to be until something is done to address it.