CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Charleston leaders are looking for ways to address vacant buildings in the city.
This topic was discussed on Thursday during the Community Development Committee meeting.
Over the last decade, the number of vacant buildings in Charleston has been reduced by more than half, but there are still about 200 remaining today.
According to Dan Riccio, the city’s Director of Livability and Tourism, there are several reasons why these buildings are left untouched.
“Impoverished owners, unprobated estates, they simply can’t afford the BAR (Board of Architectural Review) requirements of the historic fabric, meaning the siding, the windows have to be the same as they were when they were built,” explained Riccio. “So, it’s quite expensive.”
Strict requirements from the BAR often stop the buildings from being demolished.
City leaders said several of the structures pose a threat to public safety. Red “X’s” are stamped on the front of certain buildings to let firefighters know it’s too dangerous to enter.
“Those are the buildings we find that may have holes in the roof, the holes have been there a long time. And the roof structure, as well as the physical structure has rotted out substantially. Therefore, people can easily fall through floors, we can have early collapse of the building,” explained Chief Fire Marshal Mike Julazadeh.
According to Riccio, it could take options like grant money to solve the problem.
“Maybe a financial incentive for people to restore their properties or even a financial penalty for those who are allowing their properties to become to the point of deterioration and to be demolished,” Riccio.
News 2 recently investigated what happens if buildings are demolished without approval. You can read that story here.