News Column

Historic Fayetteville buildings scheduled to be razed

July 8, 2014

By Andrew Barksdale, The Fayetteville Observer, N.C.



July 08--Two decaying Person Street buildings that are "contributing" to Fayetteville's downtown historic district are scheduled to be razed this year.

The loss of the two side-by-side structures at 133 and 135 Person St. won't jeopardize the city's historic district, a city historian said.

"With the loss of those two, I think we are in good shape," said Bruce Daws, the city's historic properties manager.

"But if we start losing any more, we could be in jeopardy," Daws said. "That would be a call by the state Historic Preservation Office."

The property owner, Daphne Sanitz, said she can't afford to renovate them or secure a commercial loan to foot the estimated $600,000 restoration cost. She bought the buildings in 2008 and 2009.

"When the economy collapsed, banks didn't like lending for dilapidated buildings, so the funding become impossible to get," said Sanitz, who owns other buildings on Person and Hay streets downtown.

The downtown historic district runs along Hay and Person streets around the Market House and includes some outlying blocks. In it, property owners must get permission for making exterior changes. Owners have been eligible to earn 20 percent state tax credits for restoring contributing buildings in the historic district, although that credit is scheduled to expire this year.

The two Person Street buildings have two empty floors and were built around 1910, according to the county Tax Office. Their fate is in contrast to the commercial and residential growth on Person Street within the district. Next door is the three-story residence former Mayor Tony Chavonne built in 2012 using hand-made brick with chips in it to appear to be 200 years old.

Sanitz sought last year to apply for a demolition permit, but the city's Historic Resources Commission issued a one-year delay with the hopes she could secure the funding or find a buyer able to save the buildings.

With no buyers, the one-year moratorium expired this spring, and the City Council in May approved the demolition request.

Daws said demolition of contributing buildings in the district is rare.

The two buildings were inspected and condemned as dangerous structures in fall 2011. The walls, doors, ceilings, roof rafters and heating and cooling systems all need repair, inspectors said.

In 2012, city workers erected orange barriers in front of the buildings, after concerns that their crumbling brick and concrete facades could hurt passers-by. The sidewalk remains partially open in front of the two buildings.

Sanitz, who is 48 and has since moved to Texas, said she is hoping to sell the land after she demolishes the buildings. She expects the demolition work to begin later this summer.

Neil Grant, a Fayetteville commercial real estate agent, said knocking down historical buildings is always unfortunate. He is a member of the Historic Resources Commission.

"Our aim is to keep the historic buildings, but sometimes they get so much into a state of disrepair, this happens," Grant said. "I think now we are working harder at getting to the owners before they get to the stage of 133 and 135 Person Street."

Grant doesn't expect the land to remain vacant for long after the buildings are razed.

"I do think it will stimulate some interest, and we will see some new construction," he said.

Staff writer Andrew Barksdale can be reached at barksdalea@fayobserver.com or 486-3565.

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(c)2014 The Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.)

Visit The Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.) at www.fayobserver.com

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Source: Fayetteville Observer (NC)


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