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Re: Historic district may come to Jersey City's West Side
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JadedJC wrote:
@Wishful_Thinking: You never addressed my main point, which is letting the homeowners in the proposed district decide. What I find so egregious, both here and in NYC, is how the historic districts and landmarks are basically designated by a small group of mostly affluent people, and then shoved down the throats of residents and owners. Shouldn't the people who are paying for this have a direct vote?

In my experience, those advocating for historic districts come from all backgrounds and incomes, from the very affluent (Park Avenue) to working class (Ridgewood, Queens). And a good outreach campaign will try to address everyone's concerns.

Should this be put to a vote? I think we all need to think hard about how that would impact on what gets saved. A lot is designated over owner objections where it would be demolished otherwise - imagine not having Greenwich Village, Elfreths Alley, or Van Voorst Park.

Posted on: 2015/2/6 17:26
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Re: Historic district may come to Jersey City's West Side
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@Wishful_Thinking: You never addressed my main point, which is letting the homeowners in the proposed district decide. What I find so egregious, both here and in NYC, is how the historic districts and landmarks are basically designated by a small group of mostly affluent people, and then shoved down the throats of residents and owners. Shouldn't the people who are paying for this have a direct vote?

Posted on: 2015/2/6 15:46
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Re: Historic district may come to Jersey City's West Side
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Wishful_Thinking wrote:
@ JadedJC - I'm mainly addressing the issues you raised here, but hopefully I can 'demystify' the process for everyone.

I've worked for the NYC Landmarks Commission, in the regulatory and policy area, for 20+ years, and there are a few critical points I've consistently raised with homeowners for years when they are planning repairs to their properties:
- research indicate that in most cases, approximately 10% of the a buildings heating loss is through windows. You can save a lot of money with repairs and storm sash.
- Tax photos were, in many cases, taken 50 to 60 years after many buildings in historic districts (often, from the mid to late 1800s) were built, and may not reflect it's original appearance
- Paint color schemes were relatively limited in the 1800s, owing to the cost of pigments. Beige - or, as most preservationists prefer to describe it - sandstone color - was very often used on exterior woodwork, to give the illusion of dressed stonework.

No one doubts homeowners in historic districts are taking on added responsibility, and in some cases, added cost. But, like with zoning regulations, this is an issue that's long been decided to be a public good and has stood the test of time.


In no way did I object to beige trim for the windows. Beige or cream probably would have been the color I would have chosen if it had been left up to me. What I'm objecting to, is the weeks it took to settle on a beige shade when all beige pretty much looks the same to everyone walking by on the street. It was the dumbest reason to hold up a permit.

Don't soft peddle this. There will be added cost - sometimes a crushingly HUGE amount - for everyone involved and not just "some cases." Often times, whose who can't afford to comply will just let the home fall into ruin and shabbiness, which basically defeats the purpose of this "public good."

Posted on: 2015/2/6 14:54
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Re: Historic district may come to Jersey City's West Side
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I live in the area that will be zoned historic. I am on the fence about this.
I believe in preservation, but I wish that it did not have to entail the extreme measures that downtown currently has to go through in order to get anything done.
The permit process alone takes forever, I can imagine that having to then get permission from the historic board will just add to the time burden.
And what happens when the historic board decides a homeowner has to do something that does not fall within code? Who reigns supreme in this situation?
Btw, I have kept nearly all of our windows. The few that were replaced we custom built out of wood and while they look like the originals, they are not name brand.
I have heard that Dan really only likes Marvin windows to be used (for whatever reason). Would this also be the case here?

Posted on: 2015/2/6 14:38
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Re: Historic district may come to Jersey City's West Side
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@ JadedJC - I'm mainly addressing the issues you raised here, but hopefully I can 'demystify' the process for everyone.

I've worked for the NYC Landmarks Commission, in the regulatory and policy area, for 20+ years, and there are a few critical points I've consistently raised with homeowners for years when they are planning repairs to their properties:
- research indicate that in most cases, approximately 10% of the a buildings heating loss is through windows. You can save a lot of money with repairs and storm sash.
- Tax photos were, in many cases, taken 50 to 60 years after many buildings in historic districts (often, from the mid to late 1800s) were built, and may not reflect it's original appearance
- Paint color schemes were relatively limited in the 1800s, owing to the cost of pigments. Beige - or, as most preservationists prefer to describe it - sandstone color - was very often used on exterior woodwork, to give the illusion of dressed stonework.

No one doubts homeowners in historic districts are taking on added responsibility, and in some cases, added cost. But, like with zoning regulations, this is an issue that's long been decided to be a public good and has stood the test of time.

Posted on: 2015/2/6 14:19
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Re: Historic district may come to Jersey City's West Side
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penumbra wrote:
Yes, we are bound by building codes, which do change over time and there is no requirement to retrofit. However, historic commissions are purely an aesthetic opinion versus the infrastructure and safety requirements of building codes.

These boards attempt to enforce a static view of the exterior of the building. For example, if one wants to put in more energy efficient windows and has a curved frame, windows will be 3 to 5 more expensive and completely custom versus rectangular. Paint colors must be approved and so on. After the declaration of historic, the homeowner must pull a permit for nearly any type of exterior maintenance.

Notification is not sufficient and not reasonable. It should be put to a vote of the residents. This is a material change in the cost structure of future improvements and basic maintenance.


Spot on, Penumbra. I completely agree that this should be put up for a vote by all the building owners affected. They will be the one shouldering the substantial cost of compliance in perpetuity.

Based on my own experience and speaking with 20-20 hindsight, I would fight tooth and nail if any home I owned was in a district up for historic designation, especially in Jersey City. It literally is an emotional and financial drain. It doesn't help that the city's Historic Preservation Officer will almost always require the most expensive option for whatever work you're seeking to have done, and he'll even go against established preservation guidelines if he thinks something looks prettier or dovetails with his vision of making downtown JC "look like Greenwich Village." My window replacement cost more than doubled because he insisted on a certain type of window even though there was no evidence in the historic record - including the 1938 tax assessor photos - that my building ever had that type of window. The permit was then held up for several weeks while he picked the historically correct shade of beige (yes, freaking beige) for the window frame. Window replacement is just the tip of the iceberg. God help you if you have a cornice or bricks that need repointing. Trying to reason with him on cost grounds is pointless. He'll repeatedly say that cost is not his concern. Easy to say when he's not writing the checks. The whole process is a joke and completely unprofessional. I felt like a crushing burden had been lifted when I sold the place, and I still toast the anniversary of the closing every year with a nice bottle of wine. Financial ruin averted. (If anyone is wondering, neither seller nor realtor disclosed the historic status when I bought the place and being new to JC at the time, I never thought to ask. I'm not blaming anyone, but it's by far the costliest lesson of my life.) In my experience, the people who push hardest for historic districting are snobbish aesthetes who care more about appearances than the real people who live in a community. This change will have a significant impact on owners who don't make six figures or are on fixed incomes.

Best of luck to the homeowners affected. You should fight hard to make this decision yours, and not the Planning Board's or City Council's.

Posted on: 2015/2/5 0:02
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Re: Historic district may come to Jersey City's West Side
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Yes, we are bound by building codes, which do change over time and there is no requirement to retrofit. However, historic commissions are purely an aesthetic opinion versus the infrastructure and safety requirements of building codes.

These boards attempt to enforce a static view of the exterior of the building. For example, if one wants to put in more energy efficient windows and has a curved frame, windows will be 3 to 5 more expensive and completely custom versus rectangular. Paint colors must be approved and so on. After the declaration of historic, the homeowner must pull a permit for nearly any type of exterior maintenance.

Notification is not sufficient and not reasonable. It should be put to a vote of the residents. This is a material change in the cost structure of future improvements and basic maintenance.

Quote:

DanL wrote:
aren't we all governed "by the law of the land," and zoning and building codes?

and laws (and rules and regulations), can be implemented or changed.

the historic district does not make an owner tear out what exists and force a restoration or rehabilitation.

the laws require notification (which Jersey City is not proficient at) which should be complied with.

and yes, learn about how this impacts your property. unfortunately, a lot of good things fail (like this) because of our city's dysfunction and more, and I hope that this does not happen here.

since it sounds like there may be an additional public meeting, come out and learn more about it.


Posted on: 2015/2/4 20:44
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Re: Historic district may come to Jersey City's West Side
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Anyone know when will this actually go into effect if it passes next month?

Posted on: 2015/2/4 20:20
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Re: Historic district may come to Jersey City's West Side
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This should be up to the people who live there. I suggest you place a voting machine at the Hank Gallo building in Lincoln Park and allow homeowners who will eventually foot the bill to vote if they want this. Replacing windows in historic homes, especially, if you have a large property would be 3 or 4 times more expensive than regular windows.

Posted on: 2015/2/4 11:05
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Re: Historic district may come to Jersey City's West Side
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aren't we all governed "by the law of the land," and zoning and building codes?

and laws (and rules and regulations), can be implemented or changed.

the historic district does not make an owner tear out what exists and force a restoration or rehabilitation.

the laws require notification (which Jersey City is not proficient at) which should be complied with.

and yes, learn about how this impacts your property. unfortunately, a lot of good things fail (like this) because of our city's dysfunction and more, and I hope that this does not happen here.

since it sounds like there may be an additional public meeting, come out and learn more about it.

Quote:

penumbra wrote:
Quote:

dntshootthepianist wrote:
is there anyone who lives in an historic district who has an opinion about whether it is a good or bad thing? i have read a lot of stuff online and i know some of the arguments for/against, but i haven't heard any first hand victory or horror stories. we are inside this area and have done a bunch of work to our place, and though it may not be historic, it looks a lot nicer than when we moved in. any experiences? thanks.


I feel sorry for anyone who currently owns a home in the proposed area. They purchased it without the encumbrances of an HOA or historic district and now will be forced to comply with the district at great cost, as noted previously.

My opinion is these are a huge overreach of authority and punitive on homeowners like those in the West Side. Buyers purchasing in a historic district or HOA at least could find out what they're in for. For me, the core notion of ownership means freedom to make the choices you want.

If you want to paint the house/car/whatever you own neon orange, it's your call. Not my style, but maybe it's yours. However, I'm in the minority. Most of my friends feel these districts protect their home values and they're willing to give up their freedom and incur the additional costs.

If I owned on the West Side, I'd fight it tooth and nail.

Posted on: 2015/2/4 10:59
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Re: Historic district may come to Jersey City's West Side
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dntshootthepianist wrote:
is there anyone who lives in an historic district who has an opinion about whether it is a good or bad thing? i have read a lot of stuff online and i know some of the arguments for/against, but i haven't heard any first hand victory or horror stories. we are inside this area and have done a bunch of work to our place, and though it may not be historic, it looks a lot nicer than when we moved in. any experiences? thanks.


I feel sorry for anyone who currently owns a home in the proposed area. They purchased it without the encumbrances of an HOA or historic district and now will be forced to comply with the district at great cost, as noted previously.

My opinion is these are a huge overreach of authority and punitive on homeowners like those in the West Side. Buyers purchasing in a historic district or HOA at least could find out what they're in for. For me, the core notion of ownership means freedom to make the choices you want.

If you want to paint the house/car/whatever you own neon orange, it's your call. Not my style, but maybe it's yours. However, I'm in the minority. Most of my friends feel these districts protect their home values and they're willing to give up their freedom and incur the additional costs.

If I owned on the West Side, I'd fight it tooth and nail.

Posted on: 2015/2/4 10:30
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Re: Historic district may come to Jersey City's West Side
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thanks to all for the thoughts and referrals. we are in fine shape, as we did a ton of work after sandy, so won't need to again (hopefully) for a while. but we have had maybe three houses bought and refurbished on our block in the last year and i'm curious to know how much of that would have taken place if it needed to be done within certain guidelines. we've also had some multi-family homes bought and turned back into single-families, which is cool because that means less cars and more invested occupants, and i'm not certain what this means for that. i guess the one thing that this all means is that i need to be better about being informed about local goings-on so i don't get to the next party so late. i know that jc has a twitter account. does anyone follow that and find it helpful? i'm (gasp!) not even on twitter.

Posted on: 2015/2/4 9:22
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Re: Historic district may come to Jersey City's West Side
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dntshootthepianist wrote:
is there anyone who lives in an historic district who has an opinion about whether it is a good or bad thing? i have read a lot of stuff online and i know some of the arguments for/against, but i haven't heard any first hand victory or horror stories. we are inside this area and have done a bunch of work to our place, and though it may not be historic, it looks a lot nicer than when we moved in. any experiences? thanks.


i've owned two houses in Harsimus Cove. I've never had any problems with Dan and I am pleased that my neighborhood has been designated. However, the cost of compliance is steep. I would suggest that the neighborhood association of the proposed district invite some of the contractors who replace windows, custom build doors and repair old stone work to give you some idea of the costs involved. For example, in DTJC all windows seen from the street need to comply when they are replaced. For a non-corner this is usually 10 for a 4 story. In the proposed area, where the houses are free standing, this number could more than double. A window that meets compliance downtown costs about $2,000 or more. Can the present owners afford that? Are you setting yourselves up to benefit the next wave of owners? I think you need to think about that. Best of luck, yours is a lovely area.



Posted on: 2015/2/4 7:18
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Re: Historic district may come to Jersey City's West Side
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I suggest all of JC becomes a historic district, or a HD Lite as someone else mentioned, if it means no more of that gaudy chrome and fake gold plated railings.

Posted on: 2015/2/4 6:48
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Re: Historic district may come to Jersey City's West Side
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DanL wrote:
Brewster, Hoboken has a historic district and commission. I worked with them to get a approvals a number of years ago for painting a store front and installing a sign.


Dan, far as a quick search can turn up, only the station area and all of Washington St are historic Districts. But as an "Observer of Infill", I can say they don't get the trash we do. I guess I'll have to ask someone there in the know why.

Hoboken Master Plan ca 2004

Posted on: 2015/2/4 0:12
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Re: Historic district may come to Jersey City's West Side
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Ditto Dan...the weak link is the erratic often punitive oversight in the districts...Interior work despite the citys' claim does not require historic approval. Where you get squeezed is that if you don't get the interior approval a historic permit won't be granted. Big players get a pass as witness the recent Grove & Montgomery construction which sailed past the Historic Commission.

Posted on: 2015/2/3 23:29
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Re: Historic district may come to Jersey City's West Side
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I owned a home in a historic district downtown for 17 years and now own a home within the new proposed district. I also have a good friend who is an architect working locally, that has no problems with the rules and can work within it. And I look forward to the designation of the new westside historic district.

the problems are not related to the rules and regulations, but as is usually the case with our city's poor and hap hazard administration over the years.

and Brewster, Hoboken has a historic district and commission. I worked with them to get a approvals a number of years ago for painting a store front and installing a sign.




Posted on: 2015/2/3 20:42
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Re: Historic district may come to Jersey City's West Side
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thanks brewster. i will search that out when i get home tonight.

Posted on: 2015/2/3 17:01
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Re: Historic district may come to Jersey City's West Side
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What's sad is that issue is addressed here as "all or nothing". While HD designating is pretty restrictive, plenty of cities all over the country have looser regulations dealing with neighborhood aesthetics from "historic lite" codes to general "can't be too cheap and ugly". I'm not sure what the laws are in Hoboken, but I'm pretty sure it's not all historic, yet they don't end up with as cheap and ugly infill as we do.

dntshootthepianist: f you have the time, there's threads from back when HPNA insurgents tried to get the law amended. You'll find more than you wanted to know!

Posted on: 2015/2/3 16:35
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Re: Historic district may come to Jersey City's West Side
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is there anyone who lives in an historic district who has an opinion about whether it is a good or bad thing? i have read a lot of stuff online and i know some of the arguments for/against, but i haven't heard any first hand victory or horror stories. we are inside this area and have done a bunch of work to our place, and though it may not be historic, it looks a lot nicer than when we moved in. any experiences? thanks.

Posted on: 2015/2/3 16:32
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Re: Historic district may come to Jersey City's West Side
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Just want to add in here that I spoke today to city officials, who said HPC does indeed have to sign off on some interior renovations, to certify that they would not harm the structural integrity of the house or affect the exterior of the house.

Posted on: 2015/2/3 14:46
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Re: Historic district may come to Jersey City's West Side
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JJ coments:

Quote:
Let the 600 property owners vote if they want their hood turned into a historical district. It should not be left up to a few especially if some of the few do not even live there.

I do like the idea of some kind of control. Some owners are out of hand and don’t give two beans how their actions affect an entire neighborhood. For an example look at 41 Tonnelle Avenue the nice old house next to the church at JFK and Tonnelle Avenue. It was a decent looking property.

It is now home to an Insurance Company that painted the front an odd hideous bright color and placed huge signs all over the property. Why?


.

Posted on: 2015/2/2 21:21
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Re: Historic district may come to Jersey City's West Side
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RebeccaS wrote:
There is an important error in this article. The author states that interior improvements/changes will have to be ok'd but that is not true.


All fixed -- thanks. My apologies.

Posted on: 2015/2/2 20:51
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Re: Historic district may come to Jersey City's West Side
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Posted on: 2015/2/2 19:38
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Re: Historic district may come to Jersey City's West Side
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There is an important error in this article. The author states that interior improvements/changes will have to be ok'd but that is not true.

Posted on: 2015/2/2 19:11
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Historic district may come to Jersey City's West Side
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Historic district may come to Jersey City's West Side

By Terrence T. McDonald | The Jersey Journal The Jersey Journal
February 02, 2015 at  4:03 PM

JERSEY CITY - The Planning Board tomorrow is set to debate the creation of an historic district near Lincoln Park, one that would affect over 600 properties.

The new historic district would be the first in the city outside of the Downtown, which has four historic neighborhoods. The designation, if approved by the Planning Board and then the City Council, would add an extra level of bureaucracy for homeowners inside the area's boundaries.

The Planning Board was set to vote tomorrow to recommend the City Council create the district, but city spokeswoman Jennifer Morrill said the vote has been postponed to March. The Planning Board will still discuss the issue tomorrow, and there will be another community meeting before the board votes in March, Morrill said.

Read more:

http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/20 ... jersey_citys_west_si.html


Posted on: 2015/2/2 16:14
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