As part of the Re: Zoning process, the City of Providence has designated a new historic landmarks district. Also, the City will remove buildings which have been demolished form the Industrial and Commercial Buildings District; which begs the question, why is there and ICBD if buildings in it are getting demolished? From the City:
City of Providence to Create Historic Landmarks District to Preserve Properties
New designation protects historic properties outside boundaries of existing historic districts; residents should seek designation by August 11, 2014
Mayor Angel Taveras announced today the City of Providence will create a new Historic Landmarks District to strengthen its preservation efforts and as part of the city’s Zoning Ordinance revision.
“We are working creatively to preserve Providence’s historic architecture,” said Mayor Taveras. “The new Providence Landmarks District will protect individual properties that having historic significance but that are not within local historic districts.”
The Providence Landmarks District will be composed primarily of residential and ecclesiastical buildings, function like other City historic districts, and include design review and demolition protections. The owners of these historic sites, such as those that have been recognized by the Providence Preservation Society, can ask that their property be designated as a Providence Landmark and request their building be included in the new district. Property owners interested in having their building designated should contact the Department of Planning and Development before August 11, 2014.
In addition to creating the Landmarks District, the City is modifying two of its existing historic districts: the Industrial and Commercial Buildings District and the Jewelry Local Historic District. Changes include adding about 30 properties to the Industrial and Commercial Buildings District, removing properties that have been demolished, and removing overlapping jurisdiction with the Downtown Design Review Committee in Downtown.
Um, Didn’t we already do this with the ICBD and how many of those buildings are gone now? What exactly will this do? If all it takes to tear a building down is to show up on a saturday with a demo crew, what’s the point?
I’d be interested in learning which buildings will be added to the list, and more about their significance.
Color me skeptical as well. What about better code enforcement to counteract absentee property owners whose buildings are decaying? It’s the same story. With few exceptions, property owners neglect their buildings and then go before these commissions to plead their case that they must be demolished because they are a safety hazard. Never mind that the reason they are a safety hazard is because of the owner’s neglect. Of course the commission does not want to expose themselves to liability in case, God forbid, someone is killed by a collapsing wall or falling debris, so while bemoaning the loss of a historic structure and giving the owner a “good talking to” about their failure to maintain their property, the permit is granted and another potential asset becomes a surface lot. Rinse…repeat.
I think it is lip service for an election and nothing more, and that is so very disappointing. The city needs to grow a set and start taking property that is falling apart by eminent domain and work with the owner to either release it to a developer who will do something with it, or put a lien on it to secure it and start a process for redevelopment. Rhode Island isn’t so rife with tea party libertarian types that this couldn’t work. It would just need to be managed by or at least partnered with a non profit to ensure that property that isn’t in jeopardy of falling down isn’t taken and handed off to a scumbag developer or a gigantic pharmaceutical company like in New London.