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The removal of 50% or more of historic, individual elements of the historic building envelope (roof, walls, porches, windows, foundations) when they are not going to be replaced at all or when they are replaced in a way that is out of character with the historic property. It will also include the removal of these historic features regardless of the percentage when they are on visible sides of the building. When this occurs, the building can lose historic integrity, access to incentives, and add up to the degradation of a historic district. These affect the whole city and not just the current property owner but also future property owners.
For more information, visit the Historic Preservation Updates page.
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Affected properties are those within the city limits that are listed as a local landmark, contributing to a National Register district, or individually listed in the National Register (about 1,659 buildings). The largest concentration of these buildings are in the following National Register Historic Districts: Abbott Tract, Lincolnville, Nelmar Terrace, Fullerwood Park, St. Augustine Town Plan, Model Land, and North City. There are only 3 local landmarks and there are over 20 individual buildings listed in the National Register (ex: Cathedral Basilica). Click here to view an interactive map where you can zoom in to see addresses or even type in your own address.
Buildings in the local historic preservation zoning districts (HP-1, HP-2, HP-3, HP-4, and HP-5) as well as those along Anastasia Boulevard, King Street, and San Marco Avenue are subject to distinct regulations within the Architectural Guidelines for Historic Preservation and Design Standards for Entry Corridors.
The proposed ordinance does not affect new construction outside the local HP zoning districts unless the new construction is directly associated with the demolition of historic architectural features.
"Demolition means the act or process of demolishing; to tear down, destroy, raze or remove all or a significant portion of a building or structure, and including partial demolition." Sec. 28-2 of the City Code of ordinances. In the Architectural Guidelines, "demolition refers not only to the complete razing of a structure but to the permanent removal of significant architectural features. This includes the removal of porches, balconies, steps, dormers, chimneys, walls, additions and similar major features."
Any building that is 50 years old or older located ANYWHERE in the city must have approval by the Historic Architectural Review Board for a Certificate of Demolition before a building permit for demolition can be issued. In the existing ordinance, this includes partial demolition. Also, there is a 30-day delay on demolition approvals.
The proposed ordinance removes restrictions for partial demolition on the buildings that are 50 years old and older that are not in a historic district, local landmark, or National Register district which would otherwise have to go to HARB. For example, right now if the owner of a building built before 1972 in Davis Shores or West Augustine wanted to demolish their porch, chimney, addition, balcony, etc. the owner would have to apply to HARB.
The change would also remove the 30-day delay on partial demolitions. Incentives to enocourage compatible redesign and restoration are also being proposed. The bottom line is that the current ordinance is ambiguous as to what constitutes partial demolition which can be interpereted differently by property owners, the HARB and city staff. The goal is to improve the language for consistency and to focus on those limited historic buildings that contribute to the authentic heritage of the city.
For historically designated properties, when construction activity includes work that is considered partial demolition the city preservation staff or HARB (depending on the scope) will review the replacement design to ensure that the historic structure will continue to be historic. This will only apply to those limited structures that are considered historic which is less than 25% of the city's building stock.
Design review is already required for all buildings in the local HP zoning districts and properties along Anastasia Boulevard, King Street, and San Marco Avenue.
No. The following types of activities are either exempted or not applicable to the proposed new partial demolition and design review policy:
Yes. For a local landmark designation the application needs to be submitted to the HARB and evaluated for local significance. The property owner is given legal notice with the right to appeal (at no charge) the decision to the City Commission. For individual National Register nominations the property owner must concur with the nomination and it is handled by the Florida Division of Historical Resources, not the City. For National Register Historic Districts, legal notice is also given to property owners and it is handled by the Florida Division of Historical Resources.
No. The City encourages the preservation of old-growth, wood windows and when maintained will last longer than any replacement window so in the long-term it is economically viable to restore and repair original wood windows if they are not too deteriorated. However, if they are beyond repair, there are acceptable replacement windows which include windows with the same configuration and some type of exterior muntin. They do not have to be wood windows, however. In these cases if the windows match the design the city preservation staff can approve the change through the normal review process of a building permit.
The Historic Preservation Master Plan was adopted in 2018 by the City Commission through a lengthy public process and subsequently adopted in part to the Historic Preservation Element of the Comprehensive Plan which was also a lengthy public process. The community commented on the significance of the historic neighborhoods and wanted to see them preserved. This proposed change is one piece of that list of specific tasks related to the minimizing demolition of historic buildings and providing clear guidance to applicants of the review process. Designated historic properties and contributing properties to a district are eligible for tax benefits. If the building or district is no longer historic this incentive would not be available to current and future property owners across the city. Also, a 2020 economic study in Resilient Heritage in the Nation’s Oldest City found that heritage tourism is driven largely by the volume of historic resources. A reduction of 10% of historic buildings in the city results in a 2% loss of visitor parties, and a reduction of 50% of historic buildings in the city results in 34% loss of visitor parties. The quality of life for residents and visitors alike would be negatively impacted without the community’s commitment to historic preservation.
Yes. In order to maintain a viable status as a National Register Historic District the rule of thumb is at least 51% of buildings in the district need to be historic. In Lincolnville, the percentage has gone from 81% historic to 67% historic based on the number of demolitions alone. This number does not count the buildings that have been so altered they are no longer count as historic which is what the proposed ordinance will improve. The de-listing of a district will not happen automatically but the question can be called at any time to the Florida National Register Review Board.