A recently proposed bill to the General Assembly has the state’s preservation community up in arms, claiming that the measure will devastate protections for historic buildings.
The bill proposes a narrow exception from what has become an extremely subjective and myopic historic preservation process. Anyone familiar with the state’s historic preservation process knows that it is excruciatingly time consuming, exorbitantly costly and requires large commitments of taxpayer resources.
In Windham’s case, a developer seeks to use private funds to raze two arguably “Historic,” yet badly deteriorated buildings on Main Street and create a 145-unit market rate housing development with ground floor retail.
The preservation community, led by its Goliaths – the Connecticut State Historic Preservation Office and the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation – oppose the plan. SB-1107 does not imply that Opportunity Zones and historic preservation can never work in tandem. As communities like Windham try to write the next chapter in their history rather than hold on to a past that no longer exists, it is critical the historic preservation process be flexible enough to accommodate necessary exceptions within the new Opportunity Zones.