How hard is it to knock down a national historic registry building?? - Defender Source
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Old December 26th, 2012, 09:48 PM
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How hard is it to knock down a national historic registry building??

Not that I would ever do such a thing, but knowing how hard it would be would aid me in some negotiations. As I understand it, the fact that it is national is not as important as local regulations.
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Old December 26th, 2012, 09:50 PM
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Originally Posted by evilfij View Post
Not that I would ever do such a thing, but knowing how hard it would be would aid me in some negotiations. As I understand it, the fact that it is national is not as important as local regulations.
My understanding is that you want to turn the "Rocky Steps" into a TGIFridays?
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Old December 26th, 2012, 09:54 PM
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I believe you are correct. The National Historic Preservation Act doesn't have a whole lot of teeth to it IIRC. A coworker is an expert on this so I'll ask her in the a.m. Does it fall under any local historic districts or ordinances?
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Old December 26th, 2012, 09:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by evilfij View Post
Not that I would ever do such a thing, but knowing how hard it would be would aid me in some negotiations. As I understand it, the fact that it is national is not as important as local regulations.
I would assume fire would be the most effective way, not so sure its the most legal. I believe someone in my town knocked down a 300 year old house marked as historic pretty quietly.
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Old December 26th, 2012, 10:00 PM
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I was thinking explosives would be good but fire to would be effective.
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Old December 26th, 2012, 10:01 PM
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Old December 26th, 2012, 10:03 PM
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Originally Posted by FSU_Disco View Post
I believe you are correct. The National Historic Preservation Act doesn't have a whole lot of teeth to it IIRC. A coworker is an expert on this so I'll ask her in the a.m. Does it fall under any local historic districts or ordinances?
It is on state historic registry and local I understand it to be "class 1 or I" so you can't change the outside without permission. I think local will be the biggest impediment. Historic societies around here are crazy.

Once again I DO NOT WANT TO KNOCK IT DOWN. I LIKE IT. It is big, old and run down. Just what I like. However, it is being sold as a subdivision play and I want to be able to say to the guy, that is not happening so you should sell it to me for what it is worth as it sits, not what the lots would be worth if mowed down.

------ Follow up post added December 26th, 2012 10:03 PM ------

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I was thinking explosives would be good but fire to would be effective.
Given that it is stone and 2ft+ thick all fire would do would be gut it. It would take a ton of explosives (literally) to level it.
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Old December 26th, 2012, 10:07 PM
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Originally Posted by evilfij View Post
Given that it is stone and 2ft+ thick all fire would do would be gut it. It would take a ton of explosives (literally) to level it.

I know a guy that could provide that..... Just sayin

Glad to hear your wanting to save it.
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Old December 26th, 2012, 10:09 PM
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I have been on the hunt for an old house for quite a while. My hoarding has overcome my current place.
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Old December 26th, 2012, 10:18 PM
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Don't know about up there, but here in charleston the local regs are super tough. When Hugo came through it peeled some paint and broke a coupla windows on my parents downtown house. They had to get paint with original ingredients and hand blown windows. It was nuts but regulations and regulations.
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Old December 26th, 2012, 10:34 PM
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Originally Posted by triple9music View Post
Don't know about up there, but here in charleston the local regs are super tough. When Hugo came through it peeled some paint and broke a coupla windows on my parents downtown house. They had to get paint with original ingredients and hand blown windows. It was nuts but regulations and regulations.
I am not sure it is that bad, the view point I have heard around here is that as long as you are preserving the house and keeping it looking basically what it looked like before, you are good to go. They will let you do stuff like add a garage in the back or newer windows as they figure people who do this stuff actually care about the house and it will keep it in use and prevent if from falling into disrepair.

Me, I don't care, I just want a big old house and as my realtor says to buyers' agents "condition is basically irrelevant to him." I like to call it "depreciation proof." If it is already run down, me crapping it up won't hurt the value.
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Old December 26th, 2012, 11:05 PM
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I think the conversation is diverting from its original intent.
There are many ways to 'circumvent' historic guidelines, though as others have said, sometimes the local zealots can be the toughest.

That said, you're essentially looking for some traction or quantifiable proof that the current owner (or Realtor)'s claims of subdivision potential are costly and speculative. Instead of doing all this research for something you aren't interested in doing anyway (razing the improvements and/or redeveloping), why not instead let he seller, or the Realtor work to prove that you could actually do the subdivision?
Ask the following:
1) has anyone produced any engineering plans for a subdivision on this property (going back as far as say 10 years ago)?
2) have any permits been applied for, denied or approved?
3) have any other developers attempted to have the property approved for redevelopment and/or proposed a specific plan?

It's hard to know the specific circumstances without all the details and knowing how much real "potential" the property may or may not have, but I find that (and I'm involved in quite a few speculative development projects in an analytical capacity) most often when land (or an improved property like a farm or such) is marketed as "potentially redevelopable" it is based on some speculative notion NOT on approved plans. The seller expects to be compensated for both current value AND the future value enhancements AFTER somebody takes the risk, invests in engineering and waits for approvals/permits.

I other words, sellers tend to be optimistic, led by an outdated perception and by Realtors who constantly tell them what they want to hear.

By asking the seller to support his/her claims rather than proving how they failed to understand the details (such as red tape etc), you're putting the burden of proof on them instead of arguing. It also shows them that you don't necessarily believe that their claims of "potential" are necessarily true, but not offensively so. Of course they could call our bluff with a stack of permits and approvals showing how the property is "turn-key" development, but I doubt it.

Anyway, that would be my first soft volley to see the response.
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Old December 26th, 2012, 11:46 PM
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Jackie,

That is basically what I am trying to do, but I would like some back up to make it clear to them that it is a non-starter.

I know they don't have any approved plans (or else they would have said so and I checked as best I could).

My experience is that no one knows what they are talking about. I found a house (and got outbid) where the listing agent swore up and down it was not sub-dividable, but it in fact was (without doing anything to the existing structure) -- still mad about that one and I looked at another one where they said it was sub-divideable and it was not. Basically no one knows anything and you either have a conforming situation (where you have it dead to rights and don't need a variance) or you have some approvals otherwise you have little to nothing in my experience. This one is 4+ acres in 1 acre zoning, but the house is smack dab in the middle of the plot. Four lots (or even three) are worth more than one really big, really old, run down house on four acres. If they can knock it down, even assuming a six figure demolition bill, they could at a minimum get two lots (which is what it is divided as now) and maybe three or four it is worth some serious coin (well over a mil maybe 1.5m +). If they can't you are basically stuck with what you have which is a 10k sq/ft old house than needs a ton of work (about a mil).

So what I am asking is as a general matter, how hard is it to knock down a site on the historic registry? If it is "you have to jump through some hoops, but no big deal in the end" that is one thing, if it is "you will be in litigation for years and you might not win" that is another matter.

Thank you for your help! This real estate thing is new to me but I am applying the normal OCD level of investigation I am famous for.
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Old December 26th, 2012, 11:59 PM
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Does National Historic Landmark status mean a building can’t be demolished?

A private property listed as a National Historic Landmark or on the National Register does not prohibit under federal law or regulations any actions which may otherwise be taken by the property owner with respect to the property – including demolition. The National Park Service may recommend to owners various preservation actions, but owners are not obligated to carry out these recommendations. They are free to make whatever changes they wish if federal funding, licensing or permits are not involved. (For more information about Section 106 Review related to projects using federal funds, click here.) Owners should keep in mind that state laws or local ordinances may affect NHLs if these legal mechanisms recognize and protect Landmarks, independent of federal law.
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Old December 27th, 2012, 12:00 AM
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Does National Historic Landmark status mean a building canít be demolished?

A private property listed as a National Historic Landmark or on the National Register does not prohibit under federal law or regulations any actions which may otherwise be taken by the property owner with respect to the property Ė including demolition. The National Park Service may recommend to owners various preservation actions, but owners are not obligated to carry out these recommendations. They are free to make whatever changes they wish if federal funding, licensing or permits are not involved. (For more information about Section 106 Review related to projects using federal funds, click here.) Owners should keep in mind that state laws or local ordinances may affect NHLs if these legal mechanisms recognize and protect Landmarks, independent of federal law.
Thanks. I saw that, I am more focused on the local part of preserving national historic sites it so maybe the title is misleading a bit.
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Old December 27th, 2012, 12:17 AM
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That snippet was from the National Park Service's website. Strike 1 for your bargaining plan. It doesn't appear that there is an "historic district" codified into the local zoning...Strike 2.

Seems like the best wedge would be to play the "risk" factor. "I'd like to demolish this POS and there's ab outside chance that it's possible...but you know how it goes when it comes to these historic buildings..."

That's the bad news.

Just how historic is this building? The good news is that at least for now there are national historic preservation tax credits available. Some states offer additional credits. A $1 mill project might be largely subsidized by these incentives.

That said I haven't looked at preserving/restoring an historic building since the economy when to hell in a hand basket. The rules may have been changed in the last few years.

Good luck.

------ Follow up post added December 27th, 2012 12:23 AM ------

We cross posted...

I don't see an official "historic district" in your area, have I missed something?

Here in Newport, RI we can't change jack on a building in the historic district without jumping through hoops within hoops. If your plan is anything but pure restoration then might not be approved.

The process is certainly dependent on local politics and the economy. At the moment it is easier to get "historic approval" for changes. But when things get busier...
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Old December 27th, 2012, 12:31 AM
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The zoning for the township it is in has historic districts (this house is not in one) and specifically incorporates anything on the national (or state) historic registry into the historic zoning ordinances (including the hearing board process) so the house is covered by the historic zoning board process.

As far as how historic it is? Well, I mean it is a 150+ year old mansion which is not all that rare around here -- age is somewhat significant as most are about 20-75 years newer), but apparently it was significant enough to make it to the national registry whereas most of them are only on the local or state.

It even has a wiki about it (not that means much of course).
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Old December 27th, 2012, 12:34 AM
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Sounds like you should pay more attention to local ordinances if you want to focus on the "by right" allowed uses (including demolition of a historically significant structure).

If you have a good law firm already on retainer, see what their land use expert has to say, or if you just want to stroll into the local planning/zoning office and simply present the scenario to them. They won't give you anything close to a definitive answer, but it will be a lot better than any of us would be able to do (without knowing the exact municipality and its processes).

It's been said the worst type of legal advice is FREE legal advice, the same could be said about real estate due diligence. This has both legal and real estate aspects, so as much as I want to give you the answers (and others) its just one of those situations where you should engage a local expert.

If it is just a matter of negotiation, I would go at it from a different angle. Sounds like there has been absolutely nothing done in terms of engineering, budgeting or real planning for a small subdivision, regardless of the placement of the current improvements. All that stuff takes time and money and above all is highly speculative. Hence the property needs to be discounted accordingly.
(e.g. If t he consensus is that building lots would yield $500,000 each, road/hard costs are $250,000, demolition is $50,000 and there is another $100,000 in permitting/engineering, that doesn't mean the property is worth $1,600,000) one still needs to realize a profit not only for risk, but for the time that the money is at risk.
Simply put, too many optimistic buyers (and aggressive, uneducated developers) think that land development is simple.

It may end up that you let the "development aspect" run its course and if there's a developer willing to take that kind of risk, then let him have it. I know it's hard because it sounds like you're definitely into this property from a utility and enjoyment perspective and not purely financial.

FWIW my worst purchases have been those where I really wanted the (fill in the blank) and the best purchases were those where I was completely ambivalent about the purchase. If you want the best price just keep that in mind.

Sorry I don't have the exact answer you were originally looking for, but thought I could help nonetheless.
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Old December 27th, 2012, 12:37 AM
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Thinking like a developer / investor what would be the fine / penalty be if you were to demo it against the rules and would it be worth it?

Seems if the profit is large enough there's always a way
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Old December 27th, 2012, 12:50 AM
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Well, I am a notorious cheap bastard so I agree completely with the don't care about purchases. As I would put it, don't get emotional about anything. I am pretty good at finding cheap real estate, but for some reason the deals I have targets have just not worked out. First one, price dropped and I was a day late. Second one I got outbid (should have made full ask offer). Third one I made a full price offer but it was owned by a developer and someone else was willing to put more money into the house than I was. Fourth one a school paid more than it was worth. Fifth one was a foreclosure and I did not get my act together gathering cash in time. Now I am onto this one.

Since it is just negotiations and I don't want to do anything, I don't think it is worth paying a lawyer (BTW I give good free non-legal, legal advice) and I figure the owner knows the subdivision is a long shot. I am just hoping some folks here have some experience that I can take by analogy to see how unrealistic the guy is being. The house has been on the market for over a year and unoccupied and it is not the type of thing that is selling in this market. Almost no one likes old houses, and no one likes old houses that need a ton of work. Me I am happy to live without working heat or AC, surrounded by lead paint etc. People who are like me are basically zero so the old houses are either completely redone (in which case people buy them but don't pay anything close to purchase cost + improvements) or someone with more money than sense buys it and pays a ton to have it redone (usually in a way that completely ruins it in my view).

What is selling near me seems to be smaller and/or newer houses with "open concept" and "large kitchens" and "master suites" and "second floor laundry."

------ Follow up post added December 27th, 2012 12:51 AM ------

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Thinking like a developer / investor what would be the fine / penalty be if you were to demo it against the rules and would it be worth it?

Seems if the profit is large enough there's always a way
$1000 a day for every day non-complaint so basically that does not work. You have to get approval.
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