Does historic preservation create “special rich people neighborhoods”? Not according to Brownstoner commenter fiordiligi, who shared his experience in Tuesday’s post about preservation and elitism. We thought his comment had an interesting perspective and is worth a closer look:
Homeowners in landmarked neighborhoods are not by definition “rich.” For example, I own a house in a landmarked neighborhood. I bought it in 1988 when there was almost no market for houses in this area despite the fact that it was landmarked. I bought it because after saving up for a down payment for many years, it was what I could afford; because I thought the neighborhood was beautiful; and because it had decent access to public transportation. I wasn’t rich then, and I’m not now — aside from the fact that the building has appreciated considerably. But I certainly never expected it to do so. And the building’s value means little to me at this point aside from the fact that I couldn’t afford to live in NYC if I hadn’t bought it when I did. And I am just as entitled as rich people to enjoy historic architecture — as are my tenants. My mortgage is paid off, and for me, this house IS affordable housing. Besides, the percentage of landmarked areas in NYC is too small to impact affordable housing in any case; and developers’ efforts to blame landmarking for their own greed in failing to build more affordable housing is nothing but laughable. Did they want to build in landmarked areas before rents and condo prices went through the roof? No, they cared nothing about landmarking. But now, suddenly, landmarking is a villain? Give me a break. Preservation of historic architecture is just as important as preservation of historic artwork — and that’s not an elitist statement. Human life is too short not to enable new generations to learn about, and appreciate, the history of architecture.