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Old Posted May 25, 2009, 9:41 PM
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sirkingwilliam sirkingwilliam is offline
Loving SA 365 days a year
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: San Antonio
Posts: 3,713
Originally Posted by chadpcarey View Post
First - there are two agencies at work here. The Historic Preservation Office (HPO) is managed by the city and staffed with city employees. The Historic Design and Review Commission (HDRC) is a commission made up of citizen appointees, much like zoning commission and planning commission. HPO makes reccomendations, and HDRC takes formal action. And in SA, both groups are very influential (especially compared to the rest of TX).

This is, of course, a double-edged sword. The "conservation first" attitude of SA has preserved much of what gives SA it's rare "sense of place", and gives the city great prospects for the redevelopment of our urban neighborhoods.

Of course, HPO and HDRC almost always err on the side of preservation, and you guys have been right to point out when this occurs (believe me, there have been times when I thought my head was gonna explode). But you guys are too quick to judge/demonize them.

The problem is this: if you allow places like Audrey's to be demolished, it's virtually impossible to have certainty about what will take its place. And the area around Madison Park is filled with lots of horrific, single-use, one-story buildings surrounded by parking lots that violate just about every rule of good urbanism. And even though Audrey's (as a structure) is in poor shape, it's building form is superior to most of it's neighbors (and could be adapted to any number of uses).

Keep in mind that developers (borne mostly by the way capital is deployed to real estate projects) have very short horizons, and virtually no incentive to consider the long-term impacts of what they build. And HPO & HDRC are an important "check" on those short-term motivations.

Don't get me wrong - I'm all for demolition, and many of the properties in and near our center city need to be demolished and upgraded - but only if the new building will be superior to what was destroyed. And a quick walk around this area will show that this has rarely been the case.

For me, with this case, it's not about them wanting to preserve the housing. I mean, if the medical groups wants to tear those homes down in favor for exact carbon copy of the current medical building across the street, i'd completely be in favor of keeping the buildings up.

My problem is the fact that they come in and just tell the owner they're going to make it a historic building meaning he can't do with it what he wants.

If it's not a historic building and the owner doesn't request that it be made one then they have NO right to just put a stamp of historical value on the property and screw the owner.
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