Volare, the passages that you quote from the article doesn't tell the whole story. I am a big designation proponent and I have said many times in the past that designation protects the building against demolition, which is true. Sandra Baker's statement, "It doesn't prevent demolition..." is also true. None of our preservation laws totally prevent demolition, but they do throw up enough roadblocks to make it much less likely. I will have more on that later in this post. As for the tax incentives that come along with preservation, I'm all for them, even though I have opposed other tax incentives. The reason is that many of these preservation projects would not happen unless there were tax breaks involved. Some of our preservation successes in Fort Worth would not have happened without the tax incentives. Many of these buildings might be vacant lots without the breaks. Also, it is much more environmentally friendly to rehabilitate older buildings than to demolish them and build new. For the record, I would like to say that it is my opinion that I think Fort Worth has a fairly weak preservation ordinance compared to other cities.
Here is how our historic designations via the City's Historic Preservation Ordinance protect against demolition. If a building is designated and an owner wants to demolish the structure, then the Historic & Cultural Landmarks Commission is supposed to hear the case that the applicant wants to demolish the building. They hear that case, and then if they rule that there are grounds to not demolish the building, then they will not issue a Certificate of Appropriateness to demolish the structure. To present this, the owner has to provide adequate proof as described in our Preservation Ordinance. Say the owner, doesn't like the ruling of the Landmarks Commission, then he can appeal to the Board of Appeals. That board can make a ruling, or send it back through the proper boards for re-hearing. In this case, it would be the Landmarks Commission. There are also passages in our Preservation Ordinance that talk about what happens if an owner demolished their designated structure without the Certificate of Appropriateness from the Landmarks Commission. Damages assessed by the City of Fort Worth can be applied to the demolished property. Now here is an example of how a designation does not completely prevent demolition. A few years ago in Dallas, a property owner demolished either in the middle of the night or over a weekend a City of Dallas Landmark in the West End. I believe this building was the Katy Railroad Freight Warehouse. The city found out about the demolition and ordered the property owner to rebuild the building at his cost. Nothing happened and the case went to court. The courts finally ruled that the city did not have the legal right to force him to rebuild. As you can see, there is an example of how the damages assesses for unlawful demolition of a landmarked building were ruled invalid and that demolition occurred with all of the legal protections in place.