Sunday, May 16, 2010

Bexley, Ohio. Residential tax abatements for restorations using authentic materials

One of the charms of Bexley is the residential architecture of the community. Design, materials and construction work together with superior landscaping to present pleasant vistas in the twenty seven neighborhoods of Bexley.

Small pleasant cottages grace many Bexley streets and neighborhoods.

Other Bexley neighborhoods have houses that look large and comfortable, timeless with quiet, unobtrusive architectural fittings of bygone eras.

Then there are austere Bexley mansions that amaze our eyes with architectural elegance, craftsmanship and fine materials.

An important component of these pleasing domestic buildings is the materials used in the original construction. Slate roofs, copper gutters and down spouts, quarried stones, bronze fittings, wrought iron fittings and hinges. All of these are subtle attributes that compliment the architectural features and landscaping of the homes of Bexley.

Sometime on a walk, focus only on the materials used to construct Bexley residences. You will soon recognize the houses with authentic materials. These are not loud pronouncements. They are quiet nuanced fittings that whisper “quality, skill, excellence."

Many of the materials used in contemporary additions and restorations are not authentic. Brass-plated steel replaces solid brass hinges; asphalt shingles replace slate and so on.

In small increments, perhaps only infinitesimal increments, the charm of Bexley residential architecture is being eroded.

A brass-plated steel hinge is substituted for a solid brass hinge. It’s not a major change. But the substitute is a small erosion of excellence. One hinge this year, one next year and then a plastic mail box replaces the wrought iron mail box.

Does anyone care that authentic materials are disappearing?

Of course practical household finance determines some of this erosion. Authentic materials are expensive, and sometimes not available. Sometimes, repairs are practical problems that surprise a budget. More often repairs are not ocassions for aesthetic reflections and so we choose the practical solutions.

As a community, should we encourage decisions that favor authenticity? How can we encourage the use of original materials in new construction, restorations and repairs?

Should the municipality take some action to encourage a market in Bexley for authentic materials?

In Bexley, real estate tax abatements have been granted for commercial, mixed retail and multi-family residential structures. Some of the tax abatements have been granted to buildings that imitate period architecture.

These same buildings use modern materials that give the impression of authentic period materials. But a moment’s glance tells the sad story of deception that these fake materials express.

The public tax abatements did not purchase something authentic for this community.

There are advantages to the modern building materials. Obviously.

But the advantages, whatever they might be, have nothing to do with aesthetics.

And living in Bexley is all about the aesthetics of daily life. Beauty in all that is quotidian.

Is it time to to subsidize things that bring beauty to our community life each day?

When families improve their houses and pick up the expense of authentic materials, should the community offer those families real estate tax abatements for their choice to preserve the beauty and the authenticity of their repairs and restorations?

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[where: 43209]

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