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Demolition avoided on Cesar Chavez

Tuesday, July 5, 2016 by Elizabeth Pagano

In a rare turnaround, a small East Austin home that has been a longtime rental in the neighborhood is now headed for preservation instead of demolition.

Initially, the owners of 2205 East Cesar Chavez St. were seeking a demolition permit for the home. However, since then, Kenneth and Myung Soon Lemond have changed their minds and are now seeking historic zoning for the house.

“The owners had a change of heart after we talked to them about the benefits of historic zoning, and (they) recognize that the house has architectural and historic significance,” said Historic Preservation Officer Steve Sadowsky.

At their previous meeting, Historic Landmark Commissioners voted to initiate historic zoning on the house with the support of city staff. The home was built in 1911 and, according to Sadowsky, has a “significant history” with Austin’s blue-collar workers that represents the story of East Austin and the development of the neighborhood.

“This is one of the older houses that is left on Cesar Chavez, which is a very rapidly changing corridor,” said Sadowsky, who added that preserving modest homes like this one “is very important to retaining the character of this section of East Austin.”

According to Sadowsky’s research, the house was home to mechanics, retail workers, electricians, plumbers, clerks and a laundress before Jesse and Elizabeth Gamboa took over the lease from 1970 until Elizabeth Gamboa’s death in 2011.

Despite the fact that the designation now has the blessing of the home’s owners, Commissioner Arif Panju said that his objection remained. The commission did recommend historic zoning 6-2, with commissioners Alex Papavasiliou and Panju voting in opposition and commissioners Michelle Trevino and Tiffany Osburn absent. City Council will ultimately have to approve the zoning for it to take effect.

Photo courtesy of the city of Austin

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