We are in the process of trying to help catalyze the revitalization of downtown Florence. There are many beautiful (century old) historical buildings there that need a little TLC. In order for a project (like Hotel Florence) to be properly funded, the use of historical tax credits are often necessary. I applaud the government for rewarding this type of development. It is a noble use of tax payer money that is helping revive many cities throughout our country.
The problem lies in marrying the requirements for historical tax credits with the current building codes. The former is a restriction to keep things as they are. The latter is a mandate to update the building in a modern way. One could imagine the problems that this would create for designers. The respective entities do not converse with one other and only care to enforce their responsibilities. So what do we do when the historical building has an open historical staircase that runs the height of the building?
Do we leave it open? Code will not allow us because we are using the floors for different uses.
Do we tear it out or enclose it for fire-rating? Historical judges frown upon it.
Do we abandon it? That seems to make zero sense as we lose the historical feel of the building as well as valuable lease-able area.
So how do find a happy medium for issues such as this? Can we not get the code inspector and historical tax judge in the same room and design a solution together? Is that feasible and will it even be productive? I obviously don't have the answer, but these kind of problems are killing projects and thwarting the very purposes of the historical tax incentives.