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Save the Warehouse District?

Tuesday, October 3, 2017 by Elizabeth Pagano

Historic Landmark commissioners have unanimously launched a process to research whether the Warehouse District could be Austin’s next historic district. Spurred by a near miss in another case, Commissioner Kevin Koch raised the question at their most recent meeting: “Is there anything that can be done to save the rest of the Warehouse District before they are all towers?” Historic Preservation Officer Steve Sadowsky said that yes, there was, though he acknowledged “it’s going to take a lot of cooperation from property owners and I’m not sure that we have it.” He then gave a brief history of the district, which is located on or near Fourth Street downtown. “The Warehouse District has basically been safe because of the large number of owners. … No one has been able to get together enough real estate to tear down buildings and start building new towers,” he said. “But that’s all changing.” Sadowsky then ran through a list of new and proposed downtown towers and demolitions that he said were threatening the character of the district. He explained that during the creation of the Downtown Austin Plan, it was only the 200 block of Fourth Street that was identified as the Warehouse District “much to (his) chagrin.” Moving forward, Sadowsky and city staff will now research the viability of a historic district in the area and establish what remains to preserve. Sadowsky struck a hopeful tone prior to setting off on the mission. “This is a place where people come, they spend money, this is a real magnet,” he said. “We’ll run with it.”

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