Because Arlington County, VA is not home to many properties over 100 years old, planning officials have turned their historic preservation efforts to those properties they do have to preserve. The Sun Gazette reports:
The first phase of the effort focused on only a very narrow slice of property types in Arlington: garden apartments, shopping centers and commercial properties more than 50 years old. Leventhal said those types of properties are most vulnerable to redevelopment.
It sounds like preservation efforts in Arlington will be much less restrictive that the often discussed Landmark Designation in New York. However, the new policy will certainly increase uncertainty and cost for redeveloping protected property. And of course the question here is, are strip malls from the 1960s really worth preserving?
Miles Grant at The Green Miles hits the nail on the head with this quote:
But saying properties more than 50 years old are most vulnerable to redevelopment is like saying cars more than 10 years old are most vulnerable to being traded in.
Sure, if classic cars were protected and not allowed to be traded in, we would see more on the road. The trade-off, though, would be that consumers would not be able to choose the cars that best meet their needs.
While Smart Growth supporters and historic preservation activists share the same propensity for top-down control of development, this issue gets to the core of their inherent conflict. The preservation of car-centric development prevents higher density, walkable communities, even when this is what the market demands. While individuals may attempt to embrace both ideologies, protecting mediocre mid-century suburban architecture necessarily comes at the expense of Smart Growth principles.