Washington, D.C.'s Historic Preservation Office (HPO) has documented what makes a building historic, but they haven't done much to clarify what makes a building "not historic." To David Alpert, that's a problem. "It's clear that sometimes, the motivation of those seeking landmark protection is more about blocking development than honoring history," Alpert writes in Greater Greater Washington.
While Alpert concedes that preservation has a place in making a vital city, he worries that by not setting a floor, the HPO creates ambiguity for developers and may slow building. "A broader concern, with so many landmark applications and especially so many in exclusionary Tenleytown, is that almost any building tells the story of something," Alpert argues. Some buildings that were submitted for a historic designation were rejected, but there are so few that it's hard to know what the floor is for the consideration.