San Francisco, CA (PRBuzz.com) December 28, 2012 -- The Austin Planning Commission has sided with a particular homeowner who wishes to tear down her own $1.1 billion West Austin home. The decision comes despite the recommendation last month that the property be designated as a landmark.
On Tuesday, the Planning Commission recommended against that recommendation, offering a 5-1 vote against, with Jean Stevens voting as the solo 'no'.
"I fundamentally just don't think it's fair with a property like this, where the best thing you can say is ... 'Well (the architect) designed the Holiday Inn.' To me that doesn't rise to the level of zoning something historic over the property owner's wishes," said Brian Roark, one of the city's nine planning commissioners.
A final decision is set by the City Council early in 2013. If the designation is approved by six of seven members, the homeowner would not be capable of demolishing the property or make any dramatic changes. The home would also be capable of taking advantage of the tax breaks, including breaks that would drop taxes on the property of $25,000 to an estimated $16,000.
The City Council blocked the historic designation in a similar case, wherein the historic commission and planning commission opposed recommendations. In that case, a Texas fraternity sought to tear down a century-old brick bungalow to build a larger structure.
Preservation staffers, along with thee Landmark Commission, stated that the mid-century home in the current case should be salvaged due to it being designed by Leonard Lundgren, who was a notable architect from the University of Texas. Lundgren build several local structures, including the Austin Motel and the ST. George's Episcopal Church in Austin.
The house is considered the best-preserved of Lundgren's single-family homes, and features natural materials such as stone interior, said Steve Sadowsky, who is Austin's historic preservation officer.
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