Key West has a large number of historic buildings, categorized as two types: Historic and Historically Contributing Structures.
Historic buildings are those 50 years or older. Historically Contributing Structures are buildings identified on a Historic Structure Survey maintained by the city’s Historic Architectural Review Commission (HARC), as authorized by the State of Florida’s Division of Historic Resources.
Only those buildings listed as "historically contributing structures" meet Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA’s) standards for historic building exemptions. Certain exemptions are available for these contributing structures, when it comes to Substantial Improvement requirements.
These exemptions allow contributing structures to be Substantially Improved without requiring the building be elevated. However, any machinery (Air Conditioning units etc.) and utilities (power meters/boxes) are not exempted from the elevation requirement.
Flood Insurance Discounts
While exempt from elevation requirements, there aren’t any flood insurance rate discounts for historic structures. As a consequence, a building left below flood levels - historic or not - will pay significantly higher flood insurance premiums.