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.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Fighting Clouds in the Silver Lining

Background: Highlands is a neighborhood in Denver Colorado built from 1893 - 1920 by the working class that has endured decades of change and continues to be a vibrant melting pot.

The revitalization of Highlands since the 1990s has not been without a downsider for many Highlanders, especially those concerned with keeping intact the area's small-scale historic character and rich ethnic diversity. As gentrification has pushed up property values, lower-income residents are nudged out, creating what artist and entrepreneur Chandler Romeo calls a "loss of multip-culturalism" in the area.

Moreover, as the neighborhood has become more desirable, developers have cashed in on the decades-old zoning code and begun demolishing older homes once again, as they did in the 1960s, in order to build large multi-unit structures. Although Blueprint Denver - an expansive reworking of the city's zoning code adopted by the city council in 2002 - provided some guidance for preservation, its impact has been watered down by an economic recession and pro-development city politicians. Demolitions have been most prevalent in West Washington Park, Cherry Creek and West Highland, although nearly all of the city's older neighborhoods are feeling the effecs of this process. Between 2003 and the end of 2005, acording to a May 2006 report in the Rocky Mountain News, annual demolitions of single-family and duplex homes jumped 63 percent.

Efforts are underway to establish additional historic districts (beyond the city's current number of 44) to help curtail rampant demolition. Historic Denver and several neighborhood associations have played an important role in this struggle, and nascent anti-demolition groups continue to form. Realtors have led the call for action in many areas, recognizing that homes in the least-dense R1 zones typically sell for more, since homebuyers want to buy into stable neighborhoods with little threa of change in local character. A recent bright spot for proponents of downzoning in West Highland was the creation last year of the Wolff Place Historic District, an area several blocks west of Highlands Square, which will help protect 110 homes within its boundaries.

From American Bungalow Issue 56


Colleen said...

There continues to be an attempt at making the Oakhurst Historic District politically unpopular. The most recent information being spread is that families do not want to live in the small homes in Oakhurst and if we do not allow for the construction of larger homes our property values will decrease.
First, Oakhurst homes are about the same size as those in other Decatur neighborhoods. Have they considered the continued popularity of the 1940s post war homes in many of Decatur's neighborhood? If no one wanted to live in Decatur's "small" homes we would not have seen values increase so rapidly over the past 7-10 years.

Second, who do you think currently lives in Decatur's homes? My husband and I live comfortably with our two children in our "small" Decatur home. Do we want to add some additional living space someday? Sure, but my friends in the Clairemont Historic District and MAK Historic District have had no problem adding square footage within the confines of their respective design guidelines. There are a number of families with children that live on my street.

Third, how many of Oakhurst's current residents can afford the new homes being built? I bought my modest $300,000 home because it is what I can afford. If I could afford a $600,000 home I would have already tastefully added onto my current home.

Fourth, a friend of mine lives in a neighborhood that saw improved property values and improved schools over the last 10-15 years. These improvements brought on higher land values and meant that like Decatur smaller homes were demolished and larger, more expensive home built. The majority of those moving into the newer homes have chosen to send their children to private schools. Now, the area is seeing a reversal of parent involvement in schools and therefore a backward slide in the quality of the school system.

Please urge your readers to ignore the sound bites meant only to create negative emotional reactions. Think about what you hear and find the facts.

Carl said...

Thanks for allowing comments again! Good post Colleen.