Torched apartment on Edgefield example of Landmark Commission struggle

The Observer‘s Robert Wilonsky points to the structure at 104 S. Edgefield, torched by a 2005 fire, as an example of why the city is pressing for new rules that would "expedite the demolition of ‘substandard structures’ in historically designated districts." In this case, Wilonsky reports, the commission’s Winnetka Heights/Lake Cliff Task Force voted not to raze the structure in January of this year, but more recently, gave the city the thumbs up to demolish it.

I won’t reiterate all of Wilonsky’s recent Unfair Park blog post (you should read it for yourself), but essentially, the city is trying to make the case that of the 37 certificates of demolition filed with the Landmark Commission in the last five years, none have resulted in structure repairs, despite the fact that the commission denied 10 and postponed two. So it looks like the city is trying to find a way to take the Landmark Commission out of this process because in the city’s opinion, the commission is simply slowing down demolition orders.

The city’s proposal is scheduled to go before the Public Safety Committee today, but Wilonsky wonders if it won’t be dropped from the agenda — the Landmark Commission hasn’t even been briefed yet.
When it comes to historic structures, residents of Oak Cliff find themselves all along the spectrum — from "everything is worth saving" to "some buildings should just be demolished" to "whoever owns the property has the right to do what he wants with it". (Of course, in neighborhoods like Winnetka Heights, which is an historic district, and Kings Highway, which is a conservation district, property owners agree to adhere to certain standards.)

But no matter where a person finds himself along the spectrum, most people agree that Dallas doesn’t do a very good job of preserving its history — thus the need for the Landmark Commission. In the post, this is what Preservation Dallas‘ Katherine Seale has to say: "The reason why the City Council appoints the Landmark Commission is to prevent needless demolitions, and if they’re removed from the process, there’s no insurance we don’t have buildings that just look bad or are vacant that are otherwise perfect candidates for renovation torn down because somebody doesn’t understand what they’re looking at."


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