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Landmark Commission gives 1928 bungalow month-long reprieve

Monday, November 25, 2013 by Elizabeth Pagano

The Historic Landmark Commission put off a proposed demolition last week, granting at least another month to a Heritage Neighborhood bungalow.


Ed Lopez would like to tear down his 1928 bungalow at 2910 Rio Grande Street in order to make way for a bigger house for his family. Lopez has owned the house since 2004.


“We’ve seen a lot of changes. I’ve been there since before anything started being built. And having been a Longhorn since 1987, I’ve been here since Antone’s was on The Drag, so I’ve seen a lot of changes,” said Lopez. “On Rio Grande, in the past year two full demolition permits have been issued…And there’s been, I believe, five new construction homes built within 500 feet of our property.”


“There is already a lot of change and development going on there,” said Lopez. “This house was basically an empty house where bums slept for the better part of 30 years… We were really the first people to step up and do something with this property.”


Lopez explained that he and his wife have always planned to build their house on the property. Though he has offered the house itself for free, he’s had no takers. Lopez has had offers on the property, but has no interest in selling.


“I get offers all the time, but some of the people who built these stealth mansions are the ones that want to buy my property,” said Lopez. “The course of our block here – all of the decisions have already been made two years ago when they gave the demolition permits… The look of the street has already changed. I’m just looking to go along the path of where that whole area is going.”


“I certainly understand where my neighbors and friends are coming from. Our neighborhood is going through a lot of change. I wasn’t the one that started the change, and I certainly won’t be the last one,” said Lopez. “I would just like to build a single-family home and have it as our homestead.”


Though staff was unable to recommend individual historic land marking of the house, Historic Preservation Officer Steve Sadowsky did tell the commission that it would be a contributing structure to a potential (not existing) historic district in the West Campus/ Heritage neighborhoods.


“I’m just looking at it from the perspective of losing a house in the very middle of the core of a potential historic district. It could have a very detrimental effect on creating a district there in the future,” said Sadowsky.


The commission spent some time discussing the option of building an addition on the back of the house that would allow it to remain a potentially-contributing structure, but Lopez had no interest in that plan.


Though the house looks pristine in pictures, Lopez assured the commission that the situation was much different inside and had termites.                                                             


The steering committee for the Heritage Neighborhood Association requested a postponement in order to give them more time to research the history of the house and look for an alternate solution.


“Once the house has been demolished, there’s not any way to put it back together,” said Betsy Greenberg.


That time was granted by the commission, who postponed the case until its Dec. 16 meeting.

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