Coalition Applauds Change in City Demolition Policy
Posted May 25, 2011 | Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-588-6141
NEW ORLEANS (May 24, 2011) – A coalition of preservation, neighborhood, and planning groups applauded the City of New Orleans for a key modification of city policy and practice that will encourage the preservation—rather than demolition—of hundreds of homes across the city. The policy shift was first announced at the city’s BlightStat meeting on Thursday, May 19, 2011.
According to Jeff Hebert, Director of Blight Policy, the city will no longer send blighted properties located in local historic districts directly to the Historic Districts Landmarks Commission (HDLC) for demolition approval. Instead, properties located in local historic districts will first be offered for sheriff’s sale. Only if a property does not sell at sheriff’s sale will it then be sent to the HDLC for demolition approval.
The City of New Orleans deserves praise for this policy shift, which will help preserve the city’s historic architecture, maintain property values, and retain historic streetscapes so important to our neighborhoods. It will also help to prevent a rise in the number of overgrown vacant lots that continue to eat away at the fabric of our neighborhoods.
"With this change, the city has shown that it understands the longstanding arguments of preservation advocates, city council members, and demolition approval committees themselves – namely, that demolition should not be the first means of addressing many of the blighted properties here in New Orleans," said Brad Vogel, a fellow with the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s New Orleans Field Office. "The city is trying an alternate approach that we believe will pay dividends in the long run. The new policy allows one last opportunity for attracting third party investment dollars to renovate properties before governmental entities expend tens of thousands of dollars on demolition."
"We commend the City of New Orleans on this wise change in blight policy," said Michelle Kimball, Senior Advocate with the Preservation Resource Center. "While pursuing the sheriff’s sale route is a more time consuming undertaking that requires additional effort, we believe it is a crucial step in moving the city into a period of thoughtful, targeted decision making about demolitions. We will continue to work to help advertise the upcoming rounds of sheriff’s sales."
While the policy does not include the thousands of properties under the jurisdiction of the Neighborhood Conservation District Commission (NCDC), the coalition of organizations is encouraging the city to consider applying the new policy to properties in local AND national historic districts if the experiment with properties in local historic districts bears fruit. For example, the Mid-City neighborhood is currently within a national historic district, but not within a local district. Thus, it will not benefit from the latest change in policy.
- National Trust for Historic Preservation
- Preservation Resource Center
- Foundation for Historical Louisiana
- Louisiana Landmarks Society
- Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation
- Smart Growth for Louisiana
- Bywater Neighborhood Association
- Irish Channel Neighborhood Association
- Mid-City Neighborhood Organization
The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places.