Thursday, September 01, 2005

Preserving New Orleans?

This post is a duplicate of a reply I made within this Metafilter thread.

I started thinking ahead a few months, and my question is: will New Orleans be restored, rather than rebuilt sited elsewhere?

The Historic Preservation Institute has lots of links to other informative sites, but the problem with so many of these organisations is that, like the presidential order "Preserve America", they seem only to cater to historic sites which actually exist undamaged at present.

FEMA says:

Environmental and Historic Preservation Review may occur for projects that involves repairing a structure to pre-disaster condition. Structures typically include:

  • Roads and Bridges
  • Water Control Facilities
  • Utilities
  • Parks and Recreational Areas
  • Buildings and Equipment

  • Typical Environmental and Historic Preservation Laws and Executive Orders that may apply include the National Historic Preservation Act, Clean Air Act, and Floodplains Executive Order. Typical concerns may include historical impacts, air pollution, and re-development within a floodplain (if applicable).

    So I’m still worrying about the status of the city. New Orleans has a lot of ‘officially’ historic buildings but what do the owners of these buildings do now?

    Let’s say a guy owns an old bar on Canal Street — if he has to rebuild elsewhere, he’ll lose the tax incentives he formerly enjoyed. But if he has to restore his old building, who gives the permission and where does the money come from? And even if he can, won’t the insurance be so expensive that it’ll force him out and give some soulless businessman free reign over what used to be a great, locally-owned bar?

    These people could be a great help in stepping in and showing over-eager planners that New Orleans’ historic buildings could still be structurally viable, but somehow I don’t think anyone will make the call.

    So where does that leave a city which has badly-damaged historic buildings, and which contains 2 national parks?

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