The city has had a demolition by neglect ordinance since the early 1990s. It allows the city to make repairs to endangered properties that have architectural value, and to recoup the cost of those repairs by placing liens on those properties.
That ordinance requires only that the buildings to be boarded up, protected from the elements; preservationists now are trying to find new ways to get these same buildings renovated and put back in use. “That’s the ultimate issue: How do we get beyond a boarded-up building?” Thompson said. “We need to create an environment, a set of incentives that connect people with projects to make them work.”
Carolyn White of the East Side Community Development Corporation said she would like to see a new website that property owners could visit to get advice on maintenance, dealing with foreclosure, livability issues and others. Marvetta Daniels, the corporation’s president, said part of the problem is that homeowners fear that if they make repairs, their property taxes will rise and they will lose their home.
South Carolina cities have the option of capping property taxes on renovated properties, but Charleston is not among those that have done so. Winslow Hastie, the Historic Charleston Foundation’s preservation director, said the city and preservationists need to intervene earlier — before a building is are about to fall down.
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