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Eastside demo moves quietly forward

Monday, April 2, 2018 by Elizabeth Pagano

East Austin is losing another home to demolition. The demolition moved forward without a fight at the Historic Landmark Commission, where Historic Preservation Officer Steve Sadowsky noted he had put the item on the agenda because “I didn’t want to let this one go by without, at least, a discussion.”

The home, which was built in 1911, is located at 1900 Haskell St. Sadowsky said that architecturally, it met the qualifications for individual landmarking. However, in order to move forward with historic zoning, a home must qualify under two of the five criteria, and this one came up short in terms of historical associations, archaeology, landscape features and community value.

Mickey Peavler, who is the architect on the project, told the commission that the owners had originally planned on remodeling the home, but learned that would be an expensive project.

“At a minimum, the price of rehabilitation was going to be equal to, if not greater than, the cost of new construction,” said Peavler.

In addition, he noted, the lot had several constraints that made development difficult. The current home has noncompliant setbacks “in virtually every direction that could be noncompliant,” he said, and heritage trees on the property prevented some development on the lot as well. In fact, he said, the owners had difficulties obtaining homeowners insurance because of all the complications of the property.

“Our plan, despite the fact that we are planning to build new, is to turn the existing house inside-out, in some sense. They would like to demo so they can salvage as much of the existing materials as possible and use them as accent pieces,” he said. “For use in the new structure.”

Commissioner Kevin Koch said he did think the home was worthy of the commission’s brief discussion. “I hate to lose it,” he said. However, because of changes to the doors, windows, and roofing materials, which prevented it from being listed individually on the East Austin Historic Survey, Koch did not see the case for historic zoning. He motioned to allow the demolition permits to move forward.

Historic Landmark Commissioners voted unanimously to release the demolition permits, with commissioners Emily Hibbs and David Peyton absent.

Photo courtesy of the city of Austin.

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