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Code Inspectors Agree To Keep Historic Watchdogs In The Loop

An agreement between Charlotte's code enforcement office and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission should prevent owners of historic buildings from receiving surprise orders to repair or demolish their property. A number of buildings with historic significance have been the target of demolition orders in the last year, as a new city ordinance went into effect. The ordinance is meant to improve the appearance and safety of commercial buildings. Code Enforcement Director Walter Abernethy told the city council on Monday that historic buildings will no longer be inspected without first notifying the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission. "We've taken their listing of historic structures - plus their study list, which is structures they're looking at that may fall into historic area - and we plugged those into our system so when we get a request to go inspect one of those, it will prompt them before we go inspect them," explained Abernethy. The Historic Landmarks Commission was not consulted before the ordinance was passed last April. Several dilapidated - yet historic - buildings have been affected, including portions of the Davis General Store in North Charlotte. It was threatened with demolition, but is now slated for repair through an anonymous gift to the Historic Landmarks Commission. The original Seigle Avenue Baptist Church sanctuary was saved from demolition this week by a local developer who plans to turn the historic building into a cafe. Negotiations are also underway to spare the Thrift Train Depot on Moores Chapel Road. Repairing historic buildings is often costly and complicated because of preservation rules. Under the city's new code, a building can be ordered demolished if the repairs will cost more than the value of the property. Thus far about 60 buildings have been demolished under the new ordinance - none were on the historic landmarks registry.