Clinton Campbell House in preservation purgatory

The owners of the historic Clinton Campbell house had been given a month by the city to show why they should be able to demolish it.(Nicholas Serpa/DD)

Developers who want to demolish a historically zoned building in the Roosevelt Neighborhood were given just under a month to make their case to the city on Monday afternoon.

The demolition process for the Clinton Campbell House at 357 North Fourth Avenue was essentially “backwards,” said Kevin Weight, a member of the city’s Historic Preservation staff.

He said normally a property is already designated historic when someone applies to have it demolished. In this case, the owners applied for demolition before the building received historic preservation zoning on April 4.

“Section 806 of the city’s zoning ordinance says that if you’ve got a pending case for historic preservation, and there’s a pending case for demolition, the historic preservation office is required to hold a hearing on the demolition within 20 days of when one of the processes starts.” Weight said.

Weight said the burden is on the applicant, Glasir Capital Partners, to prove why the building should be demolished. Glasir will have to show the property is either not historic, or that being forced to keep the property would result in economic hardship.

City officials said they are not sure which case Glasir will make at the next meeting, but they are betting they will pursue the economic hardship case.

Weight said they have an extensive list of things that need to be shown to them to effectively prove historic zoning causes economic hardship for the owner of a building: when the property was brought, how much was paid for the property, how much is being paid in taxes and insurance, cost of the rehabilitation, how much the rehabilitated building will sell for and potential rental income, among others.

“Basically, they have to show they cannot get a reasonable return on the property if they’re required to keep the building,” Weight said.

There are two different categories of economic hardship. One is for income producing properties, and one is for non-income producing properties. Since it is a commercial building, they were granted a continuance to try and prove that they will not be able to make a reasonable return on their potential income producing property.

Joe Viola, the voluntary hearing officer of the historic preservation commission, granted Glasir the continuance.

“You can’t buy a property, let it go to heck, and then say ‘Hey, it’s an economic hardship for me to put it back in shape’…The hardship cannot be self sabotage,” Viola said.

Viola said he expects Glasir to show how much rehabilitation of the building would cost, and try to prove the expected market value after rehabilitation would be lower than usual because of it.

Weight said Historic Preservation staff will post a new sign on the building with the updated information by at least May 13, and will send a letter to the Roosevelt Action Association.

The next hearing will be on May 23 at 11 a.m.

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