Five Reasons Why a Demolition Delay Ordinance is Good for Columbia

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Lula Drake

As recently reported by The State, the Columbia Planning Department and City Council’s economic development subcommittee are considering a “demolition delay” ordinance, which would prevent rapid tear downs of historic, architectural or culturally significant buildings outside of currently protected districts. For more than 50 years, Historic Columbia has been committed to protecting and preserving the built and cultural history of Columbia. It is our position that a delay ordinance will have a positive impact on our city for many reasons. 

  1. Significant historic buildings will not be demolished without review. 
    Pressing pause on the issuance of a demolition permit allows time for the community to avoid the total loss of an irreplaceable historic asset by finding an alternative solution to destruction be that sale to a preservation-minded buyer, adaptive use, relocation or salvage.
     
  2. Property owners may save money.
    Historic preservation is typically more cost effective than new construction. Why? Historic buildings do sometimes need upgrades, but these are usually less expensive than the costs of building all-new foundations, structural systems, roofs and building finishes.  In addition, there are local, state and federal incentives available to private owners for renovation of historic buildings. *
  3. Property values may increase.  
    Study after study across the nation has conclusively demonstrated that historic designation and the creation of historic districts actually increase property values. Why? In part, historic designation gives a neighborhood or an individual historic site a cache that sets it apart from ordinary properties. Many buyers seek out the unique qualities and ambiance of a historic property. Historic district designation gives potential home buyers two rare and economically valuable assurances: that the very qualities that attracted them to their neighborhood will actually endure over time, and that they can safely reinvest in sensitive improvements to their home without fear that their neighbor will undermine this investment with a new “monster home” or inappropriate new development. *

  4. Historic preservation is a benefit to the community.  
    Historic preservationists do care deeply about the past -- generally not just to wallow sentimentally in a bygone era, but as a way of anchoring ourselves as we move forward confidently into the future. Historic preservation is not about stopping change and is certainly not about squeezing out creative and exciting new architecture and development. Preservation allows us to retain the best of shared heritage to preserve sites of unique quality and beauty, revitalize neighborhoods, spur economic revitalization, and, quite simply, create better communities. *

  5. Demolition delays work in other communities.  
    Wilmington, NC; Fort Worth, TX; Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; Gainesville, FL; Baton Rouge, LA; Examples in SC: Aiken, Beaufort, Charleston, Florence.

*Credit to Ken Bernstein, Manager and Principal City Planner, Office of Historic Resources, Los Angeles, CA - Top Ten Myths about Historic Preservation