Buying a Historic Home in Cape May by Edward Connolly
There are many homes of historical significance in Cape May reflecting architectural styles spanning over two hundred years. It is home to one of the largest collections of nineteenth century buildings in America. Over the past several decades preservation efforts have intensified and have led directly to a positive effect on the city’s economic growth. The historic district is defined by its architectural character in its entirety. It is comprised of individual, commercial and residential structures. The relativity of scale, proportion, materials and streetscape provides commonality among a diversity of style and features.
Cape May’s architectural heritage led to its designation as a National Historic Landmark District in 1976. City Council underscored this honor by establishing the Cape May Historic Preservation Commission. The Commission is involved with conducting surveys and setting design standards for exterior alterations, new construction and demolition. With the increase of traffic generated by tourism and the demand for new construction it is the charge of the Commission to oversee these developments, ensuring that the design standards are adhered to.
In Cape May City properties are designated as either Key, Contributing or Non-Contributing. A Key property demonstrates outstanding quality and state of preservation; Contributing properties are integral parts of the historic ambiance in a historic district; Non-Contributing properties do not add to the historic theme of a historic district. When considering a property in Cape May work with your agent to determine the designation of that property. You can also contact the HPC for this information.
When you are ready to make an offer there are several things to consider in order to maximize your investment; have a full understanding of what you can and cannot do to the property; hire a home inspector preferably with experience in this area; obtain estimates from contractors with experience in historical restoration to gauge costs. It is also a good idea to engage an architect to formalize your project into plans that you will need for your presentation.
Ed Connolly Broker Associate Coastline Realty 609-884-5oo5 x111; cell 609-602-3089
Source: City of Cape May HPC Design Standards