Regarding “Historic rehab tax credit is vexing for policymakers” (Our Views, Nov. 7): Who would argue that the value of Homer's Odyssey and Danielle Steele's latest novel is the same because both books sell for the same price? Yet The Oklahoman makes this argument about the value of historic rehabilitation tax credits. It suggests the free hand of the market should determine whether a historic structure is restored or demolished. If it's cheaper to demolish and build new, then we should demolish and build new. The cost should determine the outcome. The Oklahoman's position presumes that cost equates to value. If two items cost the same, they are of equal value. If we were dealing with fungible items, that would be correct. Mere functionality could be fungible. But the best buildings are not merely functional. They express an aesthetic that enriches our culture.
Oklahoma City has excellent examples: the powerful marbled lobby of the former First National Bank, the space-race optimism of the Gold Dome, the graciousness of the Skirvin Hotel, the impressive new Devon Tower and its neighbor, the experimental Stage Center. Buildings like these represent our history and reflect our finest efforts. They are tangible expressions of our story. They tell us where we have come, who we are and what we desire to be. Aesthetic expression is essential to our lives. We should preserve these historic buildings and the aesthetics they offer. We need the historic rehabilitation tax credits in that effort.
Gary Derrick, Oklahoma City
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