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Friday, October 6, 2017 by Jo Clifton

Council OKs historic zoning for apartment house

City Council approved historic zoning on Thursday for the 1930s-era Tucker-Winfield Apartment House at 1105 Nueces St. Council Member Jimmy Flannigan voted against the designation and Council Member Ellen Troxclair abstained.

Flannigan objected to the designation, at least in part, because the city’s historic preservation staff could not point to a particular historic figure associated with the building, even though it is on the National Register of Historic Places.

He said, “I have grave concerns about the way in which we do historic preservation and the way we designate historic properties that have very questionable history.”

Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo staunchly defended the designation, noting that it had been approved not only by staff, but also by the Historic Landmark Commission and the Planning Commission.

Historic Preservation Officer Steve Sadowsky explained to the Austin Monitor that the building was built during a time when a lot of single women came to Austin to work at state agencies. “This building tells the story of the transition from rooming houses and boarding houses, where most of these people had lived, who could not afford homes of their own.

“The Tucker-Winfield House is special because of the amenities provided, he said, “including a formal living room, a dining room, a kitchen. It was basically the apartment version of a house that people could rent and that was something that was in very short supply in Austin.”

Sadowsky said a lot of similar apartment houses have been demolished over the years.

Backup material for the item states that “the Tucker-Winfield Apartment House is a rare remaining example of a four-unit apartment house from the multifamily building boom of the 1920s-30s in the downtown core. It also represents Austin’s economic resilience during the Great Depression, as well as a turning point when government and institutionally driven growth transformed it into a modern city.”

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Key Players & Topics In This Article

Austin City Council: The Austin City Council is the body with legislative purview over the City of Austin. It offers policy direction, while the office of the City Manager implements administrative actions based on those policies. Until 2012, the body contained seven members, including the city's Mayor, all elected at-large. In 2012, City of Austin residents voted to change that system and now 10 members of the Council are elected based on geographic districts. The Mayor continues to be elected at-large.

historic preservation: Official actions of a municipality such as the City of Austin taken to preserve structures with their jurisdiction. Preservation is often accompanied by a property tax exemption.

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