Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Preservation Committee Renews Efforts

Fairhope, Alabama


Cartledge Blackwell, architectural historian for the city of Mobile's Historic Development Commission, addressed Fairhope's Historic Preservation Committee recently about steps the city could take to preserve historically and architecturally significant structures in the city (generally over 50 years of age).

Blackwell said he is "amazed by the buildings you have here ... some cool modern buildings ... great stuff ... but, while buildings are the focus ... in the end ... people make a place ... its a balance of the two."

He emphasized the roles of the two basic types of historic districts: the National Registry administered by the National Park Service and locally formed ones (by city councils). They provide different levels of protection and the two may coincide.

The city already has three NRD's (national districts): the Downtown, Bayfront and White Ave.


The committee discussed the need for an updated survey of the three existing districts and other parts of town as well. The last one was done in 2006.

Councilman Mueller thought surveying the entire city to establish a data base of potentially historic properties -- and then listing them on the city's website would alert developers and homeowners to perks that may be available, such as tax breaks, for preservation. Others thought only properties west of Greeno Rd. should be included.


After being prodded by History Museum Director Donnie Barrett, the committee decided to  look into the cost of hiring a consultant to do the new survey and simultaneously seek advice about forming a local preservation ordinance.

Blackwell offered assistance from Mobile's Commission and suggested a good strategy may be to "start with what you have, the downtown -- and spread out from there."

"Tailor the ordinance to the landscape you are working with ... meet with someone who has ordinance experience to guide you through the process ... draw on local talent across the bay ... we can help you."

Blackwell emphasized the need for cooperation ("direction, not dictation") and suggested having various levels of expertise ( ie. architects, developers, homeowners, etc.) included on any Review Board that may eventually be formed under a new ordinance.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Donnie always tells it like it is!