Originally Posted by twolondonplace oh, and does anyone know of any knew developments in Shmuel Fahri's plan for the old library on Queens?
One of London's biggest core-area developers knocked city hall yesterday for discouraging the preservation of historic buildings.
"Politicians talk about heritage a lot, but there's no money or incentives for it," said Shmuel Farhi.
Developers who take on heritage properties are "penalized" with high development charges and higher taxes, he told members of Heritage London Foundation at its annual meeting.
Those levies, added to the unpredictability of renovation costs, scare most developers away from heritage buildings, he said.
Farhi said he's renovated historic buildings and has had a tenfold increase in property taxes afterward because of the increased value of the sites.
In a few cases, he said, he's paid almost as much in development charges as he paid for a building.
Farhi said he's also required to bring old buildings up to code, yet receives no breaks for that.
Older buildings with high ceilings are more expensive to heat and cool and often don't have much parking -- a deterrent to attracting tenants, he said.
Farhi owns about 50 buildings and 400,000 square feet of space in downtown London. He has only 50 parking spaces when municipal regulations say he should have 1,600.
"We have buildings worth saving, but we need policies to help save them," he said.
"We should be helping private developers willing to do it, not penalizing them for it."
Last summer, Farhi purchased the old central library on Queens Avenue for $2.4 million and has had to remove asbestos.
He plans to retain the front of the building and its big lobby and build apartments behind or beside it.