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Photo by city of Austin: 2507 Park View Drive
Thursday, November 12, 2020 by Minka Atkinson
Two more homes from the Air-Conditioned Village slated for demolition
The Historic Landmark Commission voted at its Oct. 26 meeting to again postpone discussion on the proposal to demolish a pair of homes located in Austin’s Air-Conditioned Village until its November meeting.
The two houses, at 2505 and 2507 Park View Drive, are significant due to their location. The Air-Conditioned Village was built in the early 1950s as one of several nationwide experiments in building middle-class housing with central air conditioning, something that had previously been considered an upper-class luxury.
“I strongly support the demolition permits for both these homes, primarily on the basis that denying the permits is going to impose an undue burden on the homeowners and that the homes are long past their usual life and are functionally deficient,” said Azim Hajjar, who lives across the street from 2507. “When the original residents moved out, they left (the home) in a completely dilapidated condition.”
Dominique Levesque, owner of 2507 and developer of 2505, submitted petitions to demolish both houses in order to build new single-family homes in their place, saying in a letter to the Historic Landmark Commission that the houses are outdated and inefficiently built.
In her letter, Levesque specifically noted issues with the houses’ failing foundations and costly plumbing replacements.
Tim Patrick, owner of 2505, spoke at the meeting in favor of demolishing the building, saying it is in poor condition and has been remodeled too many times to be considered a midcentury house.
“So much of the house has been altered, there’s not really much we can do with it,” Patrick said. “We do, however, want to build a new midcentury house that is brick … and looks like it belongs in the neighborhood.”
Preservation Austin submitted letters arguing against the demolitions.
“The Air-Conditioned Village has seen too many demolitions, at a rapidly increased rate, over the past several years,” Preservation Austin President Clayton Bullock wrote. “Today only 15 of the original 23 homes retain integrity. Every loss brings us closer to losing any chance for a historic district to honor and protect these buildings.”
After hearing from community members, the Historic Landmark Commission voted 8-1 to postpone its decision pending further discussion.
“Upon reconsideration, staff believes the best alternative here would be for a postponement and seeing if we could develop plans that would incorporate these houses, undo the modifications that have been done to them, and really do justice and homage to the Air-Conditioned Village,” Commissioner Terri Myers said.
This story was written by a journalism student at the University of Texas at Austin. The Austin Monitor is working in partnership with the UT School of Journalism to teach and publish stories produced by students in the City and County Government Reporting course.
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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.