That was the opinion presented Wednesday by city Historic Planner Joel McEachin before the City Council Special Committee on Jacksonville’s Neighborhood Blight Historic Structure Policy Subcommittee.
The subcommittee is working to establish guidelines for historic designation as part of proposed legislation that would allow the city to demolish a structure that has been abandoned for more than 24 months.
Doing so is a way to reduce or eliminate neighborhood blight, devaluation of adjacent property and public safety hazards.
McEachin provided a proposed definition of what constitutes “historic,” based on city regulations already in effect.
In order to qualify as a local landmark, a structure must be at least 50 years old and:
• Have value as a significant reminder of the cultural, historical, architectural or archaeological heritage of the city, state or nation.
• Be the location of a significant local, state or national event.
• Be identified with a person or persons who significantly contributed to the development of the city, state or nation.
• Be identified as the work of a master builder, designer or architect who has influenced the development of the city, state or nation.
• Have value recognized for the quality of its architecture
and retain sufficient elements showing its architectural significance.
• Have distinguishing characteristics of an architectural style valuable for the study of a period, method of construction or use of indigenous materials.
• Be suitable for preservation.
In order to qualify as a local landmark, a structure must be at least 50 years old and meet at least two of the other criteria.
The 50-year-old criteria was established by the National Register of Historic Places as the “passage of time necessary to apply objective standards” for defining historic buildings.
More than 20,000 properties in Duval County are listed on the Florida Division of Historical Resources Florida Master Site File and therefore designated as at least potentially historic.
However, the majority of potentially historic buildings in Jacksonville have never been documented.
McEachin said a formal survey would have to be performed to determine historic value, which could take Planning Department staff 30 days per structure.
It takes more than merely being at least 50 years old to make a building “historic.”