At yesterday’s meeting, the Jacksonville Historic Preservation Commission (JHPC) recommended that the Bostwick Building be granted historic landmark status. The JHPC agreed with staff recommendations that the Bostwick Building meets six of the seven criteria established for landmark structures. (The only criterion not met was number two.) In order to be eligible for landmark status, a structure must be at least 50 years old and meet two of the seven criteria if the owner is the applicant, and four criteria if the owner is not the applicant, as is the case here. The commission and staff noted that it is very rare for a building to meet so many of the eligibility criteria.
What happens next? JHPC will forward an advisory recommendation to City Council, accompanied by a report of findings. The landmark recommendation will be taken up by the City Council at the same time as the owner’s appeal of the JHPC’s denial of a request for demolition permit. The public hearings for these items have not been scheduled at this time, but we will provide an update once the dates are known.
If the JHPC’s recommendation is approved by the City Council, then the Bostwick Building will be afforded additional protections against demolition. Declaration of a building as a landmark by City Council also enables the property owner to access a number of financial incentives that can make restoration more cost feasible. At the local level, landmarks within Downtown can access the Downtown Historic Preservation Trust Fund. Additionally, historically designated properties that undergo substantial rehabilitation may be eligible for an ad valorem tax exemption. Tax credits for up to 20% of the total rehabilitation cost are also available at the federal level for certified rehabilitation of a certified historic structure. Designating a building, such as the Bostwick Building, as a historic landmark is not just about preventing its destruction; it is a tool that adds value to the building and can make restoration much more cost feasible for the owner.
What can you do? Let your City Council representatives know how you feel about this issue by either emailing them or speaking at the public hearings. Gain an understanding of the issues from an ordinance code standpoint by reviewing City of Jacksonville Ordinance Code Section 307.104 and Section 320.407(b).