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Old Posted Jul 2, 2018, 8:18 PM
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Fears mount as rumors spread that Kirby Mansion close to sold

Preservationists expressed dismay and frustration Wednesday over the possibility that the Kirby Mansion — one of the few historic estates still standing in the downtown area — could be torn down.

“The house could be preserved with other uses on the rest of the property,” David Bush, executive director of Preservation Houston, said. “With the right developer and the right architect, you could do something different.”

The future of the 1920s English-style manor is in peril as a buyer seeks to purchase the historic property, according to people familiar with the sale.

Preservationists fear the two-story red brick estate at 2000 Smith, developed just before the Great Depression, could become the latest of the city’s dwindling supply of historic and architecturally significant properties to vanish.

“Reliable sources indicate the historic house is under contract and that the new owner does not intend to retain the building,” the email read. “Preservation Houston has been working behind the scenes to promote the restoration and repurposing of the historic property.”

After hearing rumors that the building could be sold, Boesel and two other preservationists met last week with the property owner, an attorney named Philip Azar, who offices in the mansion, to discuss options for maintaining the building.

“We love the Kirby Mansion and tried to restore and redevelop the site but the financing markets just weren’t ready for a development in Houston at that time,” Murphree said this week. “We decided to drop the project and still hope for someone else to make that block what it can be.”

A San Antonio developer recently had hoped to acquire the property and build a hotel next to the mansion.

The process of securing financing for the project slowed the progress, and “unfortunately, as I understand it, their clock ran out,” said John Cryer, board member emeritus with Houston architecture firm Page, which was working with that developer.