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Home arrow Working with Section 106 arrow ACHP Case Digest arrow Winter 2005 arrow Florida: Demolition of Properties in the Pensacola Naval Air Station Historic District
Florida: Demolition of Properties in the Pensacola Naval Air Station Historic District

Agency: U.S. Navy

In fall 2004, Hurricane Ivan slammed into the Florida Gulf Coast. The stormís 120 mile-per-hour winds hit the Naval Air Station Pensacola, seriously damaging many of the siteís National Register properties.

These included five historic districts, numerous individual properties, and a National Historic Landmark (NHL) District, which served as a 19th-century shipyard, then as the Nationís first permanent naval air station and pilot training center, as well as the first naval installation to send pilots into combat.

As the naval air station attempts to recover from the hurricane’s impact, it has proposed to demolish nearly all of the properties in the NHL District—thus virtually eliminating the NHL as a historic district.

The ACHP is participating in consultation on the Navy’s draft Programmatic Agreement to determine which buildings can be immediately demolished and which buildings should be repaired.

Rubble piled up in front of a large, red, damaged building, with people walking into the building's arched doorway. Damage to the Pensacola Naval Air Station Historic District, FL
(staff photo)

On September 16, 2004, Hurricane Ivan slammed into the Florida Gulf Coast, directly hitting Naval Air Station Pensacola with the rest of the city. Damage to the naval air station was extensive, seriously threatening the installation’s ability to meet its training mission.

The historic properties at the naval air station included five National Register-listed historic districts and individual properties, and, most importantly, the Pensacola Naval Air Station Historic District.

As a National Historic Landmark (NHL), the district provides testimony to the rich heritage of Naval Air Station Pensacola, as a 19th-century shipyard, then as the Nation’s first permanent naval air station and pilot training center, as well as the first naval installation to send pilots in combat.

With a special $500 million appropriation from Congress, the Navy is undertaking a comprehensive program to recover from the hurricane’s impact but must allocate these funds by October 1, 2005. Following the Presidentially declared disaster, the Navy notified the ACHP a few weeks later that it intended to operate under the special emergency provisions allowed under 36 CFR Section 800.12. The Navy requested that the timeframe for use be extended from the normal 30 days to 60 days.

To address the recovery effort, the Navy has developed a draft Programmatic Agreement (PA), which the proposed project’s consulting parties are currently discussing. The Navy is attempting to reach a PA that will allow the demolition of a large number of properties that contribute to the NHL district, as well as the expedited review of repair work on other historic properties.

The Navy seeks approval to demolish up to 40 historic properties, virtually all of which contributed to the historic districts. The demolitions would be concentrated in the NHL district and would virtually eliminate the NHL as a historic district.

In December 2004, the National Park Service (NPS) hosted a meeting in Atlanta with the Navy, the State Historic Preservation Officer, and the ACHP to consider the Navy’s plans. NPS has joined in consultation in the Section 106 review process because of the adverse effects of the Navy’s plans on an NHL. At a follow-up meeting at the naval air station, the ACHP sought consensus on what buildings could be immediately demolished.

In January 2005, the ACHP received the Navy’s latest version of the PA for review. Due to the Navy’s urgent schedule, consultation will need to be concluded quickly either through reaching an agreement or formal ACHP comment.

Staff contact: Don Klima

Updated August 31, 2005

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