Give hope to old buildings

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I read your recent “good news, bad news” article relating to the pending sale of the old Davidson School (“School board votes to sell old Davidson building,” May 15) with mixed emotions. I was glad the Richmond County Board of Education has found a buyer for the building, getting cash for an unproductive asset, but I was dismayed to learn that the buyer plans to demolish the handsome old building.

This historically significant school, fondly remembered by many classes of graduates, was built in 1933 and features design, craftsmanship and materials that cannot be duplicated. Its key location bridging Augusta’s downtown and the medical complex made it an excellent candidate for redevelopment. Furthermore, had the BOE simply kept it in reasonably sound condition, it would have been eligible for substantial rehab tax credits and could have been sold for much more than the amount they will receive now.

It is particularly frustrating to me that, for years, as the building slowly deteriorated, Historic Augusta pleaded with the BOE to allow us to help them find a qualified buyer, but the BOE finally accepted our offer of assistance only recently when the process of “demolition by neglect” had made successful rehab virtually impossible.

It is historic buildings such as Davidson that give Augusta its character and charm. Our historic neighborhoods are our competitive advantage over other communities; we need to make every effort to preserve them.

But I believe we do have reason to hope this loss will not be repeated. The BOE recently did a wonderful job rehabbing Tubman Junior High on Walton Way, and was commended by Historic Augusta for that effort. I am hopeful the BOE now realizes the great economic value of its historic school buildings, both to itself and to all Augustans.

The BOE will have a chance to demonstrate this newfound concern with their management of Joseph Lamar Elementary School on Baker Street, another landmark structure they have recently vacated. I will be watching with optimistic interest.

Tennent Houston

Augusta

(The writer is chairman of the Preservation Committee for Historic Augusta Inc.)

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Riverman1
82195
Points
Riverman1 05/24/13 - 04:43 am
7
0
Historic Buildings

You will never regret saving a historic building. Keep the architectural character of the city.

Bodhisattva
5977
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Bodhisattva 05/24/13 - 06:58 am
6
0
Augusta's not in the habit of

Augusta's not in the habit of saving buildings. We can thank Mr. Knox for saving Sacred Heart (even though Wiki says, " city officials renovated the building and opened as a vibrant center of the city for cultural events", ??? not quite sure on that one) and much of old town. The Miller is still nowhere after years. I'm not from around here and so don't remember the train terminal, but it looks like the city saved the ugly, dirty part and tore down the part with the beautiful classic architecture. There are some examples, The Imperial, but from what I've always heard, the Modjeska was the more beautiful of the theaters (it was nudie and kung fu movies when I came along so somehow I missed it). The old Augusta College area still exists, but it's been out of the city's hands. Heck, it took a giant fight to keep Atlanta from letting the Fox get torn down. Once these places are lost you can never get them back. The people need to remember that, and think twice before letting history just be swept away.

http://railga.com/Depots/augusta.html

soapy_725
43672
Points
soapy_725 05/24/13 - 08:28 am
0
0
As always, follow the money....
Unpublished

it will lead you to the truth and motivation. ARC wants to acquire and hold onto property. So it holds, holds, allows to decompose and then sells. Historic buildings only matter if there is government funding to accomplish same. Profits for the "preservation minded". Old Towne was funded by tax dollars through restoration estimates at twice value and government kicking in 50% to restore. Owners got refurbished structure at "net zero" cost. What a deal that would be for each of use taxpayers.

Find an old structure. Have it listed as historic. Have it appraised for 200% of actual value. Receive tax dollars to refurbish same at 50%. Spend the actual cost of restoration and receive the reward of a "net zero" expense for the new structure as well as accolades for being "preservation minded".

Money rules. Money makes conservationist out of us all. Enough money. LOL LOL

Fundamental_Arminian
1833
Points
Fundamental_Arminian 05/24/13 - 11:31 am
4
4
Property owners' rights should come first

Property owners' rights are more important than buildings. Whoever bought the Davidson building should be free to make whatever changes seem best, unless there are restrictions in the sales contract.

Contrary to the letter writer, we don't "need" to make every effort to preserve buildings such as the Davidson and Lamar schools. Some of us may want to do that, but whoever wants such a thing ought to pay for it without bullying the property owners or burdening the other tax payers. When old buildings have to go, we may satisfy ourselves simply by looking at photos and setting up historical markers.

KSL
126321
Points
KSL 05/24/13 - 05:34 pm
3
1
Exactly, fundamental

But the problem is not limited to old buildings.

Years ago there was a strip of land behind an established subdivision that the developer had owned. Operative words, had owned. The new owner wanted to develope it. The protests from the people living in the older subdivision were very loud. They said the developer had told them that the land would always be a buffer. I seriously doubt that. The land was suitable for development and the government powers ruled in favor od the new developer.

The homes in the newer development over the years have held value much better than those of the protesters.

Bottom line, if you don't own it, you might not be able to dictate what happens to the property.

Riverman1
82195
Points
Riverman1 05/24/13 - 07:36 pm
4
1
It's common for cities to

It's common for cities to have codes preventing destruction or improper alterations of historic buildings. Charleston for instance has very strict codes. Think what it would be like if you allowed a modern building in the middle of a historic district of a city.

KSL
126321
Points
KSL 05/24/13 - 08:27 pm
0
1
Easily done by getting a

Easily done by getting a specific building designated of historic value or declaring a certain area to be a historic district. Aiken has both. There is a house about a mile from where I live on the Natioal Historic Register. Been on in for decades before the city established its district.

gargoyle
15980
Points
gargoyle 05/24/13 - 10:20 pm
2
1
Define historic,and how much

Define historic,and how much of it can you afford?History is for sale all around.

KSL
126321
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KSL 05/24/13 - 10:49 pm
1
2
You are totally right about

You are totally right about the definition of history. Where do you start it and where do you stop? What bureaucrats do you give that decision to?

KSL
126321
Points
KSL 05/24/13 - 10:54 pm
1
1
I would te you about the

I would te you about the history of this building, but that would just allow Trouble to have another BINGO.

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