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Eureka Holdings seeks rehabilitation approval for I.Q. Hurdle House

Monday, April 29, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

In less than a week, the I.Q. Hurdle House at 1416 E. 12th St. went from a demolition-by-neglect case to a voluntary restoration project.

When Dallas-based Eureka Holdings – under the name Poisonous Poinsettia –  bought the home of the celebrated minister and public school educator Isaiah Quit Hurdle a year and a half ago, there was talk of restoration and relocation, but as of now, none of that has transpired.

While in a holding period, the state of the home, which is currently covered in graffiti tags and blocked off, has continued to deteriorate. In an effort to jump-start the restoration process, the city’s Historic Preservation Office came to the April 22 meeting of the Historic Landmark Commission to weigh the commission’s opinion on whether or not to open a demolition-by-neglect case. Demolition by neglect is a process in the city code that’s intended to protect historically important buildings from becoming unsalvageable due to neglect or inattention from their owners. When such a permit is issued, the city sets a timeline for the owner to rehabilitate the structure.

However, between the case being put on the agenda for consideration and the actual meeting, Eureka Holdings filed a Certificate of Appropriateness, an application for exterior repairs that is reviewed by the Historic Landmark Commission to ensure that repairs align with the historic character of a building.

“This is actually using honey rather than vinegar,” Historic Preservation Officer Steve Sadowsky said of the change.

Although the Certificate of Appropriateness will come before the commission at its May meeting, Commissioner Kevin Koch asked if the home could be painted in the meantime. “Is there any way we can escalate the painting of this property? Because that’s the number-one thing I can see, is the wood exposed to UV rays disintegrating daily.”

Pam Madere, who was representing the property owners, committed to finding an “appropriate contractor” to paint the home.

Madere also emphasized that the property owners have spent the last few months reaching out to stakeholders and the community to discuss potential opportunities for restoration.“We want to assure the commission and also the community that we understand and respect the importance of the I.Q. Hurdle home,” she said.

In preparation for the case, Preservation Austin, two neighborhood associations and the Urban Renewal Board sent letters expressing their wish that the house be rehabilitated on-site rather than let it languish into disrepair or be moved.

In response to the owners’ change in tune, Sadowsky suggested to the commissioners that “we put off the demolition by neglect and work with a property owner who seems to be voluntarily willing to preserve the house and recognizes its significance, and that’s the first time we’ve had that on this house in a very long time.”

Commissioners requested that the case come back before them at their May meeting as a Certificate of Appropriateness case rather than a demolition-by-neglect case. Since this was posted as a future agenda item, no formal vote was taken on the matter.

Koch reiterated that painting the home was essential even before the commissioners work with the property owner to devise a restoration strategy. “A good coat of paint and then we can have some time to think of a proper, thorough rehabilitation,” he said.

Photo courtesy of Google Maps.

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