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Monday, May 23, 2016

Saving history before it's too late

A reader sent this in last week:

I have been noticing a growing amount of articles related to the tearing down old/historic houses in Coconut Grove (not only on your blog). Same as you, I am not against modern houses, I actually live in one, (although there was no house on my lot previously and neighbors where able to save most trees as far as I know and I planted many myself too).

Unfortunately, there are two cute cottages from 1936 by my house, that as far as I know, will be torn down to build two new houses. It is a shame, because they are really nice and could have been updated. There are plenty of old, ugly houses in the Grove, that if torn down, nobody will miss, on the contrary. But it's a shame when they are charming, historic houses. It would be so nice to have them updated, have a mix of old and new, the way they do it so well in Europe. But for that to happen, there needs to be also some sort of protection and most importantly preservation of these old homes, because by the time someone buys them, they are all rotten and with so much termite damage, that it makes it hard or too expensive to save them.

Which was probably the case with the house on Hibiscus and Avocado. The cute little cottages I'm talking about (on Avocado one and Loquat the other) have been sold a year ago and abandoned since then. You can see them deteriorating daily. It's the perfect excuse to knock them down. 

On one hand unfortunately the city doesn't  protect the properties with historical value from being destroyed, but there's also the fact that by letting them rot, we give them  an excuse to destroy them. It shouldn't get to that point. I have no idea what can be done. I just wanted to add  a little something to this matter.

For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing - only through social media. Not copying and pasting.


Anonymous swlip said...

This all sounds great, in principle. But, as the writer admits, he/she lives in a modern house. What do you say to a homeowner that is looking to sell a property with an old, 1,200 square foot house on it? Sorry, but we're not going to allow you to get the best value from your investment? Do you say the same thing to the buyer?

The conundrum at the heart of this debate boils down to a simple question: At what point does mandatory historic preservation become a tax on property owners?

The proposed solutions seem to be all stick and no carrot. Why not offer incentives for preservation, such as meaningful reductions in property taxes?

May 23, 2016 12:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with everything this person says except one: Your lot was not empty when the house was built. It was part of a larger parcel that was split up to build your house.

May 24, 2016 7:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I lived in one of the cottages mentioned. That lot was not part of a larger parcel. It was an individual lot, owned by the same person, with no fences erected, so it seemed like one contiguous lot.

May 24, 2016 12:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Things that are old are not necessarily historic and I think lots of posts/comments on this blog get that confused.
As the poster mentions, the houses have been deteriorating. Sure, it's a 'cute' cottage that might be torn down. But if it's from 1936 the electrical system is probably not up to current code; could be a hazard. The paint might be leaching hazardous chemicals, the same with the pipes. If it's wood frame and not CBS, there's a good possibility Florida termites and weather have caused substantial damage. It probably doesn't come anywhere close to current Hurricane codes.
Updating a house is more than a coat of new paint and new window screens.
I would feel much better about having historical designation talks if the person advocating for it could tell me why something has historical value as opposed to just being old.

May 24, 2016 2:17 PM  

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