Keeping the Facade

IMG_7523, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

I love when they keep the facade. Is that law or just good taste?

14 Comment

  • Is that the place at 19th & Wyoming? It’s been like that for a couple of years now. I wonder if anything will ever come of it.

  • I think its law in certain historic preservation areas or something like that, no?

  • Developers get tax breaks if they do a historic preservation. My architect friend thinks its bad business and bad design, as it often yields crap from the past (see the historic post office front saved on Irving St near Columbia Heights metro (part of Best Buy now).

  • It can certainly be bad. Btw, wouldn’t it be sweet to have a new post office behind the old post office facade? I just spent 40 minutes in line at the Petworth office on Saturday, with one lady trying to cope.. unbelievable.

  • It can look decent if the newer, taller buildings are set back from the facade as opposed to flush up against it, making it look like a cheap, ill-fitting appliqué rather than a valiant attempt to preserve an old structure and skyspace.

  • Not only tax breaks, but also zoning exemptions. For example, if an older building is closer to the street than is now allowed, save the facade and it’s an automatic easement.

  • interesting. I always thought it was the long arm of the historic preservation peeps that required it to stay around. i always loved that facade that’s now part of the target megopolis, back when it was just hangin’ there on the edge of a big field for like 10 years. nice and ghostly then…

  • yeah, I agree with the Crap from the Past assessment of the Post Office facade on the Best Buy in Columbia Heights! I was looking at it the other day – it’s in rotten shape, but then could they not even paint it (is not painting it part of “preserving” it)? The old facade serves no purpose on the old building so just looks ridiculous.

  • Facade preservation is only one of a variety of options used when historic preservation is either desired or necessary by law. If the building is in a historic district or is individually designated and the interior is not salvageable, preserving the facade has been, in the past, an option. This approach is falling out of favor for obvious reasons – if you demolish the rest of the building, you destroy the entire context and giving a Disney-fied version of the past. So now this approach is more of a last resort. More common is the addition of a new structure on top of or around the existing one. The plans in the works for the Wonder Bread factory on S Street are moving in this direction.

  • That is the place at 19th & Wyoming and the developer essentially ran out of money so who knows how much longer that will sit like that…awesome.

  • I should think it is the law, to the extent the building is landmark-protected. There are a patchwork of laws that cover this….

  • people still go to the post office?

  • I avoid the post office like the plague and I mean it. When I actually need stamps, I get them at the check-out at Safeway, Giant or Whole Foods. I rarely send packages, since that means I’d have to go into a post office.

  • Generally, it’s because it’s required by the Hist Preservation Review Board, but there are available credits. If you’re changing the use or the square footage you might not be able to keep the whole building because you need to put in your underground parking. The credits can help but you’re keeping the facade b/c you have to.

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