Tool 1: Selecting Buildings For Demolition - Using a Decision Tree
Most distressed cities have far more structures that are potential candidates for demolition than resources with which to demolish properties. Depending on the building itself, its relationship to other buildings around it, the characteristics of the neighborhood in which it is located and the nature of other activities planned or taking place in the surrounding area, any given building may or may not be a suitable candidate for demolition.
Decisions must also take into account the larger economic context. In a neighborhood with weak market conditions and severely limited market demand, it may be acceptable to demolish buildings even though the outcome will be vacant lots. In a neighborhood with strong market demand, knowing that there is a specific reuse proposal or at least reuse potential for that lot may be an important consideration.
Many demolition decisions will not be clear-cut, but will involve a balancing of many different factors, and the level of market demand may tip the balance in one direction or the other. The choice of which buildings to demolish, other than emergency demolitions, should be made through a “decision screen” or “decision tree” that enables decision-makers to weigh the various factors for or against demolition of any specific building. The table below lists the factors that should be considered in making a decision to demolish a building.
While most of the factors are largely self-explanatory, the subject of physical texture, as it is called in the table, and its relationship to the demolition decision, is worth further discussion.
►Go to a demolition “decision tree” which illustrates how the factors shown in the table can be organized into a framework for decision-making. This decision tree comes from Bringing Buildings Back, which contains a more extended discussion of demolition as well.
In the end, however, these assessments and decision models are only tools, which can assist in decision-making, but cannot substitute for the exercise of informed, thoughtful judgment.