New state law could allow developers to demolish historic buildings

Ocean Drive on Miami’s South Beach. The 1920s and 1930s era buildings within this corridor are immune to a new state law that strips local historic protections for buildings in coastal areas.

A newly enacted state law will make it easier for developers to demolish some historic structures in coastal areas, a Fort Lauderdale land use attorney told the Business Journal.

Keith Poliakoff, co-founder of Government Law Group, said the bill will enable developers to demolish old buildings that weren’t registered with the National Register of Historic Places prior to Jan. 1, 2000.

“As a result of this bill, you will start seeing a tremendous amount of real estate deals where these old properties are finally trading hands at the value that they are worth,” Poliakoff said.

SB 1526, also known as the Resiliency and Safe Structures Act, was signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis on March 22. The bill primarily deals with properties in special flood hazard areas where there is at least a 26% chance of flooding over the course of a 30-year mortgage. In those places, local governments can’t prevent the demolition of any structure that doesn’t comply with the new requirements of the National Flood Insurance Program, according to an analysis by staff of the Florida Senate’s rules committee.

In short, most cities are severely limited in their ability to protect older buildings along the coast, although an exception was created for barrier island municipalities, such as the town of Palm Beach, with populations of less than 10,000.

Other exceptions include buildings listed in the National Register of Historic Places for at least 24 years, such as the Art Deco Historic District in Miami Beach, or privately owned single-family homes that were designated historic since Jan. 1, 2022.

The bill also bans local governments from mandating a replica of the demolished building, requiring a developer to preserve any part of the demolished structure, or imposing new building requirements. The demo permit must also be approved administratively and without public hearing, the rules committee report stated.

“Within the next 30 days you will start seeing demolition permit requests to ensure that structures can be removed quickly,” said Poliakoff, adding that he has clients in Hollywood and Miami Beach who want to demolish decades-old buildings on their properties that are too expensive to rehab.

Although most of the Art Deco District along Collins Avenue and Ocean Drive in Miami Beach are immune from the law, the same can’t be said for other parts of the city, said Daniel Ciraldo, executive director of the Miami Design Preservation League.

“It could be devastating in Mid Beach, for example the area where the Faena Hotel is located, and the Collins Waterfront Historic District,” Ciraldo said.

Consisting of properties built in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, the Collins Waterfront Historic District in Mid-Beach is on the National Register of Historic Places, but it wasn’t listed January 2011.

Ciraldo said the law is “arbitrary and targets certain places over others.”

“We don’t think legally it will withstand a challenge in the courts,” he said.

Article Link: New state law could allow developers to demolish historic buildings
Author: Erik Bojnansky