Historic and Design Review Commission, September 3, 2019

This week, our first vice president delivered statements on four projects affecting historic buildings or districts.

315 E. Houston Street – Kress Building – Downtown

This 1938 Art Deco landmark, known for its terracotta ornamentation, is being renovated by GrayStreet Partners.  The building’s original signage spelling out the store name remains integrated into decorative blades that extend above the central roof  parapet.  Proposed signage for new tenant WeWork, a New York City-based coworking company, should not detract from this element.

We supported the Office of Historic Preservation (OHP) staff’s recommendations on sign placement and illumination.  The commission approved the request with these stipulations. Read our full statement.

214 Lotus – Finding of Historic Significance

Despite the owner’s request for demolition, the commission approved taking the first step in the landmark designation process to preserve this c. 1909 Victorian house in the Lavaca neighborhood.

A popular real estate website showed the house in what appeared to be reasonably good condition when the current owner purchased it in March.  Therefore, we joined OHP staff in supporting this designation to protect a usable historic resource. The case will move on to zoning next.  Read our full statement.

415 N. Mesquite and 105-113 Brown – Dignowity Hill Historic District

This five structure, multi-story, multi-family project returned to the commission with many improvements.  However, the design still fell short of achieving final approval.  Rather than giving a denial, the HDRC postponed the case.  Read our full statement, which describes some of the design issues that need to be addressed to make the infill more compatible with the historic neighborhood.

311 Pereida – King William Historic District

We are pleased that this Alfred Giles-designed Victorian house, which had been moved from its original Cedar Street location, is being renovated.  It has received a Society grant to restore the front porch and our grant terms require that all work be in accordance with the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation.  The OHP applies the same standards for exterior work.

A previous HDRC review of this project had stipulated that wood windows be replaced with wood windows. Unfortunately, the owner started installing vinyl-clad wood windows.  We agreed with OHP staff that this substitution neither kept to the Secretary’s Standards, nor the terms of the original project approval.  The commission upheld this position and did not approve retaining the vinyl-clad windows.  Read our full statement.

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