Originally Posted by Terminus
There is a concept in zoning called "legal non-conformity" which says that something that is inconsistent with current regulations (i.e. non-conforming) is legal and can continue to exist as long as it was legal at the time of construction. As a result, modifications can be made to the existing structure that would be illegal under current regulations as long as they do not increase the degree of non-conformity.
Thus, the Hyatt was entitled to replace an existing blank wall because the degree of non-conformity remained the same, even though the blank wall is illegal. However, an existing storefront could not be replaced with a blank wall, because the degree of non-conformity would increase.
I'm just reminded though that in many areas (I'm remembering when I lived in FL), if a building did ANY work that required a permit at all. Then they had to bring the building up to ALL current standards. I'm sure people might argue that would have a dampening affect on people ever doing renovations and improvements; however, they could still go through a repeal process if needed, and there were provisions for historic preservation etc.
It would be better though if there was some positive reinforcement and actual incentive in place for bringing a building up to new standards. Maybe a waving of fees, or tax break.
Maybe one of the downtown groups that could at least make a target list of the more serious offenders, and visit each one in turn and see just what could be done by the city/landlord/design committees working together.
I'm just reminded too that if you could take the 10 worst eyesores and turn each one into a pilot project and turn each into a success story. You could leapfrog eyesores into true gems.
Maybe a design competition?