Thursday, October 8, 2009

After code enforcement cites McClatchy-owned building for blight, Herald angers preservationists by painting over the limestone surface

Miami Herald reporter Andres Viglucci details the saga of the McClatchy-owned Boulevard Shops building in Miami. After a code enforcement officer cited the Herald for unsightly appearance earlier this year, the Herald applied paint to the limestone exterior surface, which is apparently a major violation to city preservation-types.

The Miami Herald unwittingly marred a historically designated Art Deco building owned by its corporate parent by painting its limestone veneer, Miami's historic preservation office says.

The building had been painted by a previous owner -- before winning historic designation -- and was repainted most recently at the direction of a city code-enforcement officer.

Herald parent The McClatchy Co. owns the Boulevard Shops, a 1930 landmark on Biscayne Boulevard declared historic by the city in 2003, in part for its "distinctive'' architectural features -- including the oolitic limestone veneer that covers the three-story building.

Last year, the company was cited by a city code-enforcement officer for poor maintenance of the building's exterior. The officer told Herald director of operations and facilities Gus Perez that the building, which is vacant, needed paint. To comply, Perez said, he had it painted in beige and light green to blend in with the Arsht Center across the street.

But that only created more problems: First, The Herald did not seek approval from the city's preservation office for exterior work on a historic building, as required by law. Perez said the code-enforcement office never told him he needed to.

And second, applying paint to limestone is a no-no, especially on a historic building, because it can damage the rock facing and obscures the holes and imperfections that give the rough material its special character, said Ellen Uguccioni, the city's preservation officer.

Earlier this year, the preservation office cited The Herald. The preservation board then ordered the company to attempt several commercial methods for removing the paint. But those failed, and other options would have only caused more damage.

On Tuesday, frustrated board members gave up, saying the city will have to live with the paint.

Uguccioni acknowledged the mishap is only the latest example of a problem that has cropped up before, because code enforcement does not notify the preservation office when it cites a historic building for violations...



Anonymous said...

A beautiful example of government inaction. You're screwed if you do something to the building and screwed if you don't. Another example of why we need less government.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a case of 'damned if you do and damned if you don't'

Anonymous said...

It is physically impossible to deface an "art deco" item as the "style" itself is an assault on the senses.

Kind of like a Picasso painting. Any 7 year old can do as well.