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  #1  
Old Posted May 22, 2009, 5:24 PM
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Oh Boy... HDRC at it again, this time, over the top?

Note: All HDRC related news from now on will use the following picture/logo I created to link to a respective link.




Quote:

Audry's Mexican Restaurant, once a regular meeting place for sportswriter Dan Cook and his mysterious acquaintance Benjamin P. Broadhind, could be razed if the owner has his way.

The city hopes to save the 60-year-old restaurant, but not because it's the home of The Dan Cook Special — a half-order of nachos followed by an enchilada plate. The Historic and Design Review Commission supported a finding of historic significance Wednesday as a step toward protecting the building at 601 Camden St.


Owner Tony Cantu wants to sell the site and two adjacent houses to a medical group, for development of a professional complex. They're discussing demolition of the restaurant and houses at 605 and 609 Camden.

The restaurant is in a two-story Queen Anne-style house, built around 1900, that's partly obscured by a concrete-block addition. The San Antonio Conservation Society supports preservation of the original structure.

A historic significance finding must be approved by the City Council.

Cantu's lawyer, Bebb Francis, said he believes Cantu should be allowed to raze the buildings because keeping them intact poses an economic hardship.

Cantu said he doesn't draw enough rent on the houses to offset taxes, operating costs and upkeep for the restaurant, which needs structural work and new carpeting and air conditioning.

“I've got two daughters who probably don't need to inherit these headaches,” said Cantu, 62.

The restaurant's former patrons, some whose photos adorn the walls, include music legends Ernest Tubb and Hank Williams. But the only one with a dish named after him is Cook, who would mention Audry's as the site of exchanges with Broadhind, his cagey, fictitious alter ego, in his Express-News columns.
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  #2  
Old Posted May 22, 2009, 5:25 PM
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How do you tell a business owner they potentially can't do what they want with their business because you've come in and potentially made it a historical structure?
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  #3  
Old Posted May 22, 2009, 5:27 PM
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faaaaaaaaaaaan-tastic.

a stray dog once pooped near it. that also must make it historic.
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  #4  
Old Posted May 22, 2009, 6:31 PM
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I thought the same thing. Look at it this way; the more they make these kinds of decisions, the better chance there is that their role or the members will have to change.
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  #5  
Old Posted May 22, 2009, 7:07 PM
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There has to be a limit as to when a location is to be deemed historical. I mean, wasn't it historical last year, or 5 years ago?? There should be an item added to this checklist of requirements the HDRC must meet to deem a place historical to include "in good shape" or in good enough shape to be redone. If they stop every building from being demo'd either by a bulldozer or time, then they have failed as a "conservation" society. Part of their agenda should be maintainence and conserving a building, before it gets to the point of no return. Once they are found historical, there should be guidelines for the owner to maintain the structure. If they don't want to maintain it, sell it to someone who will so that they can maintain it while it is still in good shape and not cost a fortune to rehab, which is the case with the Fish Market, the fossil on St. Marys and the old Dodge dealership on Broadway.
For example, just an example:
Automobile Row on Broadway. These structures have been there for many years and the owners should have been told that those structures were historical and held accountable for their upkeep. If they don't hold them accountable; come time to sell, nobody wants to buy because they have to rehab the fossil, which isn't worth much to a developer, so the owner remains stuck with the structure which they stopped caring about many years ago. So nothing gets done.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kornbread View Post
I thought the same thing. Look at it this way; the more they make these kinds of decisions, the better chance there is that their role or the members will have to change.
Are you guys taking notes??? Someone should put together a presentation for the Mayor and Council to look at to show that sometimes the HDRC does more harm than good.
I say some good, because there are some things that need to be saved. However, the Icehouse on Fred. rd. is not one of them. Sometimes you just need to let go.
Just demo it, put a plaque on it telling the story; just like the Gibbs building on Soledad/Houston, that has this plaque up:
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Last edited by miaht82; May 22, 2009 at 7:18 PM.
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  #6  
Old Posted May 23, 2009, 1:33 AM
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Really, for a plate? Who the hell is Dan Cook? Ugh, this is the epitome of their unruly power.
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  #7  
Old Posted May 23, 2009, 4:59 AM
necropolis necropolis is offline
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So they want to save these buildings/structures/houses because they are "historic"? In an interview w/ KSAT 12 the owner emphasizes that it would take way too much money to try and rehab the buildings and as far as being unique he states there are many more such houses within the neighborhood so no uniqueness exists. It irks me that the HDRC & Cons. Soc. would rather keep some structures that are falling apart in an effort to keep out development of a new sound structure as well as the introduction of more jobs and life to downtown. Instead of moving forward they would rather hold out on more opportunities for inner-city growth and downtown development. It's surprising to me that people even want to do business downtown nowadays with so many hurdles to go through.
Let me guess if the city approves to find them historical the property owner wont be able to pay for taxes/upkeep anymore so will have to either sell to the city or lose his properties through failure to pay. Then these structures get fenced in "to keep out vagrants". Of course this never works so they fall into further disrepair and of course no taxes get collected on them since no one would want to buy buildings needing advanced rehab w/ no opportunity to rebuild. As far as the med complex...which could probably be a one or two story bulidng much like the offices around the area (assuming this since no details of what could be is available and this is what exists in the area)...so yea these jobs will then not be downtown and where will they go? Hmmmm, lemme guess, O I know they'll go out along 1604 and the Hill Country area...I mean House Country area.
In order for SA to move with the future and not lag behind it must keep out such backward thinking members of these groups whom seek to find significance on anything that they can...maybe they have a quota they are trying to meet. haha that would be something. I'm all about conservation of historic/significant structures but just because it was built decades ago doesnt mean its important. When I get back to SA this summer and eventually for good in Dec. I will make a huge effort to attend these meetings and listen to their "historical findings" and see if the BS I read in their agendas is the same BS they speak at the meetings. Change is needed, badly and I for one wanna help create that change. Dang, sucks I'm not in SA yet. Well that's my rant...
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  #8  
Old Posted May 23, 2009, 7:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaga185 View Post
Who the hell is Dan Cook?
I don't care if they demolish the building or not, but as a San Antonian, you have just blasphemed.
"It ain't over 'til the fat lady sings."
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  #9  
Old Posted May 23, 2009, 8:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaga185 View Post
Who the hell is Dan Cook?
He's regarded as the best sportscaster in SA history. He's a legend. He also came up with "It Ain't Over Til The Fat Lady Sings."

He died last year.
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  #10  
Old Posted May 23, 2009, 3:15 PM
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In my defense sports is not my forte. When the Spurs were out this year, I saw another finals game a week later, and jokingly stated, "the games still go on?"

But like I said just because a sportscaster enjoys a nacho/enchilada combo does not make a building historical. What about his house he lived in? His office space, if he had one, or the articles themselves, we should never toss those, they have his name on it... they're historical!
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Old Posted May 23, 2009, 4:15 PM
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Yeah where does it end? Lila Cockrell played here as a young girl, Nelson Wolff swam here as a kid, Henry Cisneros bought breakfast tacos there....
Maybe another restaurant can help out and pick up this "Dan Cook Special"
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  #12  
Old Posted May 23, 2009, 7:48 PM
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Diana Cibrian talked out her --- here? Well, everywhere really.
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  #13  
Old Posted May 25, 2009, 3:54 PM
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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.

Chad.
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  #14  
Old Posted May 25, 2009, 8:01 PM
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Quote:
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.

Chad.
Wouldn't there be a way to tie the approval of a demolition permit to the approval of a future plan - a way to assure superiority and sustainability of a new development???
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  #15  
Old Posted May 25, 2009, 9:41 PM
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Quote:
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.

Chad.
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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Old Posted May 25, 2009, 11:55 PM
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Originally Posted by sakyle04 View Post
Wouldn't there be a way to tie the approval of a demolition permit to the approval of a future plan - a way to assure superiority and sustainability of a new development???
Well, sure. But most property owners don't do that. They simply want to tear down the building, after which there's virtually no architectural control that's enforceable for what comes next.

Typically, the developer wants to tear down a building like Audrey's and build a drive-thru fast food box (or a crappy medical office building, in this case).

Chad.
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  #17  
Old Posted May 26, 2009, 12:03 AM
chadpcarey chadpcarey is offline
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Originally Posted by sirkingwilliam View Post
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.
Actually, they (and by "they", it really means "we") do have that right. And the exercise of that right is why places like King William, Monte Vista, Lavaca, and many buildings in the center city and other historic neighborhoods still exist.

These owners aren't getting "screwed", and it doesn't mean they can't redevelop the property. But property ownership doesn't mean unlimited freedom - it comes with many obligations. And in places where historic fabric is preserved (usually creating higher property values for owners), those obligations are not insignificant.

Typically, the property owners who complain the loudest are those who allow their properties to degrade (and degrade the rest of the neighborhood with it).
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Old Posted May 26, 2009, 6:44 PM
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You know, while I was in Boston I remember talking to this taxi driver and him telling me stories of Boston in the 50's and such. The Boston he remembers is gone, the tone in his voice just sounded so heartbroken. So in a way I understand the need for these guys, I just feel like they save some of the most random things that do not need protection. I agree that when the integrity of the location is in jeopardy, they should step in and not allow a cookie cutter, jack in the crack, mc-fast food building to go in its place. But should they really designate a building historic before because a man used to eat there?
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Old Posted May 27, 2009, 2:33 PM
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Quote:
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.

Chad.
Chad,

Isn't there a way the city could enforce a form based code to have some way to ensure the development of walkable urbanism istead of another Captial One parking lot? Isn't this area where Audrey's is part of River North overlay district? A code could say "Streets and sidewalks lined with buildings rather than parking lots," and if the new development doesn't meet that code, deny it.
Is that possible? Or could it really not be that easy?
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It is the city trying to escape the consequences of being a city
while still remaining a city. It is urban society trying to eat its
cake and keep it, too.
- Harlan Douglass, The Suburban Trend, 1925
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  #20  
Old Posted May 27, 2009, 11:05 PM
chadpcarey chadpcarey is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miaht82 View Post
Chad,

Isn't there a way the city could enforce a form based code to have some way to ensure the development of walkable urbanism istead of another Captial One parking lot? Isn't this area where Audrey's is part of River North overlay district? A code could say "Streets and sidewalks lined with buildings rather than parking lots," and if the new development doesn't meet that code, deny it.
Is that possible? Or could it really not be that easy?
You're absolutely right - form-based code is the solution, provided it's implemented and enforced by the city. But it's not yet implemented in River North (or anywhere else in SA).

I'm afraid that there might be legal challenges here to FBC, as Texas state law gives lots of "protection" to private property owners. And the real estate community generally hates ANY changes the way business is done (sprawl and all the accessories).

So, as of today, if you're gonna prevent crap like the Capital One bank pad, HDRC is the only tool, even though it's a clumsy one.

Chad.
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