As Jim McPherson mentioned yesterday, there’s already a criteria in place to evaluate whether a building is worth saving or not, and that is the Phoenix Historic Property Register. There is also the National Register which is essentially the same but slightly different. Here’s a look at what they require…
The Phoenix Historic Property Register Criteria:
The Phoenix Historic Preservation Commission shall evaluate each parcel of property within an area that is included in the application for a demonstrated quality of significance in local, regional, state, or national history, architecture, archaeology, engineering or culture, according to the following criteria:
1. Associated with the events that have made significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history; and/or
2. Associated with the lives of persons significant in our past; and/or
3. Embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period or method of construction or that represent the work of a master or that possess high artistic values or that represent a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction; and/or
4. Have yielded or may be likely to yield information important in the understanding of our pre-history or history of the city of Phoenix.
1. Are at least 50 years old; or
2. Have acheived significance within the past 50 years if the property is of exceptional importance.
1. Retain sufficient integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling and association to convey their significance.
The Arizona and National Historic Property Register Criteria:
Properties eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places generally must be fifty years or older and must meet the following criteria of significance and integrity.
Criteria of Significance: Properties are evaluated in relationship to major historic and prehistoric themes in a community, state, or the nation. A property may be significant if it relates to any one or more of the following four aspects of American history:
1. Association with historic events or activities
2. Association with an important person in history
3. Distinctive design or physical character, or
4. Potential to provide important information about prehistory or history.
Criteria of Integrity: A property must also maintain enough of the original qualities that make it significant. These qualities of integrity include: location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association.’
What’s Great about the Criteria
They are holistic, looking at several different factors of significance including architectural design, historic events, historic people or ways to educate about a certain time and place. This ensures that a wide range of properties are eligible for historic designation. It’s also what we have and we should use it.
Why these Criteria Should be Used Whether or Not a Property Owner is going for Historic Designation:
Some historic properties will never be designated, whether it’s due to lack of interest from the owner, or maybe the owner prefers the flexibility of NOT being on the register, or maybe they just don’t want to go through the hassle. This reminds me of what’s happening with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. Many property owners never opt to actually pursue LEED certification, but they build their building to those standards betting that a greener building is a more valuable building.
Those of us who care about historic preservation need to sell this same idea – that a historic building is a more valuable building. Once this equation is made in the hearts and minds of the market, then historic preservation will take care of itself.
But it has to pencil out financially for property owners. If we look at building to LEED standards again, you can be sure that it almost always means higher upfront costs for the owner. But more and more, owners are able to pencil out the financial benefits of green building as they see life-cycle returns on their green investments. Plus owners are able to sell the added value of a green building to their market. A portion of the market wants to know they are doing their part for the environment and are sometimes willing to pay a premium to buy a green building. Or they know that the premium they’re paying will more than pay itself back through energy savings in the long run.
So how can we encourage developers to think the same way with historic preservation? Right now the thinking is that a historic building requires an immense amount of money to rehabilitate and in the end is it going to be worth it, does all that rehabilitation and money ADD VALUE for the owner? It’s a more difficult argument than the green argument because we don’t have energy savings to fall back on. But I think it’s still possible. It’s still possible to sell the added value of history even though it’s intangible to the market.
Once the property owner is able to charge a premium for a historic building then it becomes worth it for her to save and rehabilitate it. And when I say “worth” it, I mean really worth it to the developer – financially.
So I ask you, how can we make historic preservation pencil out for property owners? How can we make it the more lucrative option instead of the money pit it is now in the minds of developers? Somehow green building is slowly making this shift which leads me to believe, it can happen with historic preservation too.
Photo from Virtual Assist.Tags: blooming rock, historic preservation, LEED, national historic register, phoenix, Phoenix Historic Property Register, taz loomans, vanishing phoenix