Photo by city of Austin
Friday, November 13, 2020 by Elizabeth Pagano

Landmark commission stalls stone cottage demolition

The fate of a stone cottage on Elizabeth Street hangs in the balance after a postponement at the Historic Landmark Commission last month.

Historic Preservation Officer Steve Sadowsky said while the house at 910 W. Elizabeth St. appears to be in good shape, it lacks the historical significance to warrant an individual historic zoning. Instead, city staffers urged the owner to incorporate the home into their new project. Sadowsky told the commission that the city’s “reluctant” recommendation was to allow the demolition permit to move forward.

“You know I love these little rock houses,” Sadowsky said. “There does not seem to be anything wrong structurally with this house, and it definitely is one of a seemingly vanishing number of rock-veneered houses in a city that used to be renowned for them.”

Though three people spoke against the demolition, the owner was not at the meeting and no one spoke in favor of the plan.

Pam Giblin, who owns the two houses adjacent to 910 W. Elizabeth, said she thought tearing down the house would change the character of the neighborhood. “I do not understand why people buy old, cute houses and then want to demolish them,” she said. “I think this will really hurt the character (of the neighborhood) and make it more difficult for renters.”

Paula Kothmann, who also owns property in the neighborhood, said the loss of the home would impact economic diversity in the neighborhood and hoped that other redevelopment options “could be a win-win” for the owner and neighborhood.

Because the homeowner was not present at the meeting to hear neighbors’ concerns, Commissioner Ben Heimsath asked for the case to be postponed to allow the owner a chance to hear those concerns and the staff recommendation.

“If we release this permit, there’s no guarantee that the owner’s going to be aware of any of these concerns,” Heimsath said.

Commissioners voted unanimously to postpone the case to their Nov. 16 meeting.

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Key Players & Topics In This Article

Historic Landmark Commission: The city’s Historic Landmark Commission promotes historic preservation of buildings and structures. The commission also reviews applications and permits for historic zoning and historic grants.

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