Local Historic District

HNA Letter of Support for Robertson/Stuart and Mair Local Historic District

From: mary sanger <marysanger70@gmail.com>
Date: June 17, 2019 at 3:30:44 PM CDT
To: Steve.Adler@austintexas.gov, delia.garza@austintexas.gov, leslie.pool@austintexas.gov, alison.alter@austintexas.gov, pio.renteria@austintexas.gov,
Kathie.Tovo@austintexas.gov, jimmy.flannigan@austintexas.gov, ann.kitchen@austintexas.gov, greg.casar@austintexas.gov, Paige.Ellis@austintexas.gov,
Subject: Support for Robertson/Stuart and Mair Local Historic District

Members of the Hancock Neighborhood Association enthusiastically supports the application for the Robertson/Stuart and Mair Local Historic District.

The new district would provide valuable recognition for a unique community in Near East Austin where long-established Latino and African American communities maintain a thriving urban neighborhood culture in the shadow of the important historic sites of the Texas State Cemetery and the French Legation.

Nearby are several churches that remain touchstones for these communities, as well as having their own histories during Austin’s Civil Rights movement. Not far from the community stands the historically black Huston-Tillotson University, one of the oldest such institutions in Texas.

In addition to being a living community of individuals, the Robertson/Stuart and Mair district is a walkable museum of working class and middle class house types from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as well as being home to some remaining commercial structures from the same period.

The area is attractive to tourists and other visitors, drawing University Interscholastic League student tours and others to the Texas State Cemetery and the French Legation. Huston Tillotson now draws students from around the country and the world, as well as serving the neighborhood.

All of these elements combine in a unique combination of a viable historic urban neighborhood with some of the deepest roots in Austin. We hope that the City of Austin will soon approve the application for this important recognition.

Respectfully Hancock Neighborhood Association Officers & Committee Members:

Mark Harkrider
Jim Rankin
Jetta Todaro
David Guarino
Coan Dillahunty
Jennifer Dillahunty
Mary Sanger
Linda Guerrero
Julie Strong
Madelyn Kidd

607 Texas Ave. Landmark Commission Hearing Summary March 25

Summary of March 25, 2019 Historic Landmark Commission Meeting regarding the request by owners for partial demolition of 607 Texas Avenue.

Due to interest in the above, here’s a summary.

607 Texas Avenue
The home at 607 Texas Avenue was built in 1930. The current owner bought the house 2009. and has lived in it since purchase. Per City staff the house does not qualify for an individual landmark, though it would be considered a contributing structure to any future local historic district in the neighborhood. (A contributing structure “adds to the historical integrity or architectural qualities that make a historic district.”)

Summary of Historic Landmark Commission Hearing on Application for partial Demolition of 607 Texas Avenue.

Hancock Neighborhood attendees: Natalie Axe, Coan Dillahunty, Merianne Gaston, Mary Sanger

Steve Sadowsky, the City’s Landmark Historic Preservation Officer, presented the case and staff recommendation

As posted by the Landmark Commission:

The applicant proposes an addition to the first floor and the addition of a second floor to the house. The proposed addition will add 296 square feet to the first floor, 1,175 square feet to the second story, and 240 square feet of habitable attic space to the 1,218 square foot existing house. The proposed second story addition will be offset to the left of the house, and will contain a front-facing gable with paired 6:6 fenestration and a shed-dormer to the east (left). The area of the second story addition with the habitable space in the attic will be set further back and will be front-have a front-facing gable.

The materials proposed for the addition are brick, hardi-plank, and stucco. Some of the windows removed from the existing house will be re-used in the addition, particularly in the front-facing sections with brick veneer. Additional fenestration will be Marvin Integrity fiberglass windows divided lite casement and picture windows. The roof will have dimensional asphalt shingle.

Staff has evaluated this house for designation as a historic landmark and has determined that the house does not meet the criteria for landmark designation as set forth in City Code:

The proposed addition is large and has the potential to overwhelm the original house. Staff recognizes that the house does not qualify as a historic landmark, but is completely intact now, and would definitely be contributing to a potential historic district in the neighborhood. Staff recommends scaling back the addition from the front, so that the existing house retains a much higher degree of articulation in the proposed configuration, but release of the permit upon completion of a City of Austin Documentation Package, consisting of photographs of all elevations, a dimensioned sketch plan, and a narrative history, for archiving at the Austin History Center.“

In Favor, Object
The owners stated that they had done their best to preserve the architectural aspects of the house, including reuse of original materials and maintaining the full facade. They also stated they had met with some neighbors over the weekend about their plan in advance of the hearing and listened to their concerns. The owners said they were supportive of a local historic district and had design standards been in place, they would have followed them, but since no standards existed, they did their best.

The homeowners’ architect pointed out how the original materials were to be re-used in the remodel, the window style were being preserved and the exterior finishes would match the historic style. He added that the addition would be "doing a favor to the neighborhood" by being a tasteful and well considered addition.

The neighbors then spoke in opposition to the request for partial demolition requesting a postponement in order for the owners to voluntarily meet with the Commission’s Committee on Certificate of Appropriateness.

Natalie Axe spoke first, indicating that an LHD was in the process of being considered and that the house was an intact building from 1930 and would be a contributing structure* as it now stands and would be non-contributing after the partial demolition and proposed addition. She also presented the Commission with nine letters

from immediate neighbors, and one letter from a neighbor not within 500 ft, but greatly interested, all requesting the Commission to postpone the partial demolition to give the owners time to meet on April 8th with the Commission’s Review Committee on Appropriateness which could help the owners address staff recommendations as well as provide design changes that would allow the home to remain a contributing structure.

Coan Dillahunty stated he was a member of the Hancock Neighborhood LHD committee, he provided a quick overview on the committee's work to date and made the same points as Natalie, ultimately requesting that the case decision be deferred until it could be reviewed by the Landmark Commission's Appropriateness committee.

At some point during the back & forth between the Commissioners and Sadowsky, the latter pointed out Department of Interior standards are used when local standards have not been adopted.

In the hearing discussion, Sadowsky said he understood the Hancock Neighborhood was currently in the process of researching a Local

Historic District designation and he was very supportive of that effort in that Hancock is one of the most intact historical neighborhoods. At the same time, however, this should not be the basis for the decision about the current case.

Commissioner Heismath pointed out this case is a prime example of why we need historic districts, explaining the Review Committee of Appropriateness had no jurisdiction in that the home is not considered a historic landmark and is not located in a local historic district.

There was a discussion among the Commissioners about whether the renovation would make this home a non-contributing structure . Commissioner Meyer explained that the height of the renovation and the front roof plane would not convey the home’s history. Director Sadowsky, Commissioners Koch and Commissioner Emily Hibbs agreed. Moreover, Commissioner Kevin Koch, who is also the architect of the Capitol Preservation Board, told the owners he thought a few tweaks to their plan would allow the home to remain a contributing structure. It was also explained that as a contributing property in a local historic district one is available for a tax abatement for seven years with certain conditions. (For more information see tax exemption for local historic districts at AustinTexas.Gov)

Since no LHD is in place and the property is not eligible for landmark status, the Commissioners didn't think they had the authority to postpone the partial demolition request and require appearance before the Appropriateness Committee. Commissioner Koch made a motion approving the partial demolition based on the completion of the City's standard information packet. Importantly, the motion also recommended that the owners appear voluntarily before the Appropriateness Committee to get guidance on how the addition could be made in a way that wouldn't make the building necessarily non-contributing, but that was only a non-binding recommendation. The motion passed.
Commissioner Meyer once again encouraged the owners to come voluntarily to the Certificate of Appropriateness Review Committee.

Notification timing
The neighbors within 500 feet of 607 Texas A venue received the mailed notice for a partial demolition on March 14th The staff posted the renovation plan & its recommendation on March 21st, the hearing took place the following Monday, the 25th. The owners requested an expedited hearing which possibly compressed the notification process. There is no requirement that an owner confer with the Neighborhood Association.

At the time of this writing, there is no information on whether the owners of 607 Texas Avenue have changed their renovation plans.

A recording of the hearing can be found by going to the March 25 meeting of the Austin Landmark Commission, You can skip directly to the 607 Texas Avenue case.

Summary prepared by Mary Sanger and a committee of editors. 3.29.2019


607 Texas Ave. Landmark Commission Hearing Summary March 25, 2019.pdf

607 Texas Ave. Landmark Commission Hearing Summary March 25, 2019.docx

HNA Local Historic District Meeting Minutes for March 7, 2019

Minutes, HNA/Local Historic District Meeting, March 7, 2019, 7 p.m., Hyde Park Presbyterian Church Parish Hall

After closure of the HNA meeting on Mar 7, 2019, the Local Historic District (LHD) Special meeting of the Hancock Neighborhood Association was called to order. The purpose of the meeting was to provide information from the City about LHDs in general and to update HNA members and residents of the Hancock area on progress made on the LHD initiative. Jetta Todaro, member of the LHD Subcommittee, facilitated the meeting.

Ms Todaro welcomed attendees, introduced LHD Subcommittee members, and reminded attendees of the purpose of the initiative: to explore the feasibility of an historic district within the neighborhood; and to gauge interest in an LHD among residents and property owners. Ms. Todaro reviewed activities of the subcommittee over the last year since the subcommittee's formation:

A letter from Mark Harkrider, HNA president, about the LHD initiative was mailed to all property owners within the boundaries of the Hancock neighborhood in early 2018 informing them about the initiative. Those boundaries are Duval St on the west to frontage road of IH 35 on the east; E. 45th St on the north to E. 32nd St on the south.
A website devoted to the initiative and relevant information was created last year by volunteers.
A reconnaissance survey combined with a windshield survey have been ongoing by volunteers under the supervision of a qualified preservation specialist since last summer. Such initial survey work serves to identify concentrations of historic buildings within a neighborhood and gather information about periods of development of the neighborhood and the range of architectural styles present in the area.
Ms Todaro invited attendees to fill out Interest Cards placed on chairs to volunteer for the proposed LHD initiative, she reminded all to watch the LHD website and she called attention to the website section for photographs and house histories, urging attendees to add the stories of their homes to the growing list.

Ms Todaro recognized Jen and Coan Dillahunty, members of the subcommittee, for creating the LHD website, Terri Myers, member of the subcommittee, for heading up the initial survey work, and volunteers for performing it.

Ms Todaro introduced speakers for the program:

Cara Bertron, Deputy Preservation Officer of the COA and Terri Myers, Hancock resident, member of the LHD subcommittee and of the COA Historic Landmark Commission.

Cara Bertron gave a 15-minute presentation via Power Point. Readers are encouraged to view the program at www.hancocklhd.com

Cara concluded her presentation stating that the City is working with a group of citizens to create citywide design standards for future LHDs in Austin. She added that the City also will hire a consultant to perform a survey of several areas in Austin including the Hancock area. The survey is called the North Loop-Hancock-Upper Boggy Creek Survey Area. Completion date of the survey is currently unknown but the City will keep us informed of progress.

Terri Myers then presented preliminary findings of the reconnaissance and windshield surveys.

The team looked at age (50 years or older?) of the main buildings (or bridges, landscape elements, sites) and some secondary resources (garage apartments) visible from the right-of-way. The team also looked at architectural integrity for each resource. The National Park Service identifies seven aspects of integrity that should be present for a resource (bridge landscape element or site) to be considered "contributing" to a district. The seven are:
Integrity of location: is the resource in its original or historic-period location or has it been moved to the site since 1969?
Of setting: does the resource lie in a setting similar to that of the historic period? Still in the same neighborhood? Has the original neighborhood been redeveloped as a commercial or industrial zone?
Of design: does it retain all or most of its original design and character-defining features (roof form and pitch, porch, window and door patterns, etc)?
Of materials: does it retain all or most of its original materials, whether wood, brick, stucco, etc., or have they been replaced with modern materials?
Of workmanship: does it retain its original or historic level of quality of workmanship?
Of association: does it still convey its residential character?
Of feeling: does it still convey a good sense of history?
Preliminary survey results:

Ms Myers said that results show the neighborhood is overwhelmingly residential in character and has much historic fabric dating from multiple decades of the 20th century. Commercial redevelopment is occurring along some boundaries of the neighborhood. The neighborhood exhibits a variety of architectural styles and likely could meet the required 51% contributing houses to qualify for application as a local historic district. She also pointed out several areas within the neighborhood where concentrations of historic buildings exist. There is much history here, she concluded, also emphasizing that the survey results are preliminary.

Questions following the presentations:

Question: Could the Hancock Golf Course be part of a local historic district if it has historic components (like the recreation center)?
Answer: Yes. It would be counted as a contributing property and can be included in a district. When it comes to voting whether to support the district, Per City Code, the "amount of property to be calculated as supporting (a local historic district) shall not exceed one-third of 51% of land in the proposed district." Any area within the neighborhood applying for district status must be adjacent to the golf course in order to claim it as part of its district.

Question: If surveys do not find that 51% of buildings are considered contributing, can an application for district status later be appealed?
Answer: The City does not accept an application that lacks 51% contributing houses.

Question: How does one decide whether to go for smaller sections of an area for district status, or for larger sections?
Answer: The decision is neighborhood-driven. From the professional perspective, some recommend a small-parcel approach while others recommend a larger-parcel approach. For this neighborhood, a case could be made for tackling a larger area. The decision comes down to property owners' desires.

Question: What about non-resident property owners?
Answer: Non-resident property owners must be contacted about a potential district. There may be concern on their part about an LHD which is why it is important to provide information and education about the impact of a district. The LHD design standards will make it very difficult to demolish contributing buildings in a district. And, in general ways, the Standards will impact design for new construction. (ADUs can still be constructed in LHDs, as under current code, but, the Standards, for example, would require placement at back or rear-back of contributing properties, back from the street view of the house.)

Question: If 51% sign on in favor of a district, do others in same area have to be included?
Answer: Yes. A historic district must be contiguous with no “donut hole” cutouts. There will be public hearings for any district application after the application is accepted by the City with multiple opportunities to make one's voice heard at the Historic Landmark Commission, Planning Commission, and Council. Notification by the City is required to all property owners before each hearing.

Question: Can non-contributing property owners vote FOR a local historic district?
Answer: Yes, and many have done so in other Austin LHDs.

Question: A lot of historical research must be done for the local historic district application. Who does this?
Answer: A consultant can be hired to do it. Volunteers can do it, or the two can collaborate on the research.

Question: What next?
Answer: The LHD Committee is developing a plan of action.
We will continue to assess interest in the neighborhood and to talk to neighbors. Considerations:
• how to approach design standards relative to the City's effort to create citywide standards;
• determine whether and, if so, how to mesh with the City's plan to hire a consultant to survey the North-Loop-Hancock-Upper Boggy Creek Survey Area;
• determine whether to start with a small area and expand to others if there is interest;
• decide what communication materials to prepare to make residents and non-resident property owners aware of the effort and what opportunities to provide for participation.

These and additional questions will be added to the HNA developing FAQ.

Submitted by the Hancock Local Historic District Committee. 3.18.2019


HNA Local Historic District Meeting Minutes for March 7, 2019.pdf

HNA Local Historic District Meeting Minutes for March 7, 2019.doc

Historic Preservation Grant Letter of Intent for Hancock Neighborhood - September 28, 2018

Dear Mr. Sadowsky,

I'm Co-chair of Hancock Neighborhood Local Historic District Committee and
we were excited to hear about the opportunity to apply for this year's
Texas Historical Commission grant program. The Hancock Neighborhood is the
largest historic, architecturally intact neighborhood in the City of Austin
and we are doing our best to protect it from the ongoing threat of
demolitions and preserve it for future generations.

I've attached our completed letter of intent to this email and look
forward to hearing from you.

Best regards,

Coan Dillahunty
Co-chair, Hancock Local Historic District Committee




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