Preservation versus parking for 107-year-old Oak Cliff mayor’s house

Photo by Scot Dorn

The company that owns the 107-year-old George Sergeant house on Zang at Neely wants to turn it into a restaurant space.

But there’s not enough room surrounding the 3,000-square-foot building to comply with the city’s parking code; a restaurant would need about 30 parking spaces there. Jim Lake Cos. wants about 12 spaces instead, and they are asking the City Plan Commission to give them a break based on the age of the building and its location on the Oak Cliff streetcar line.

The plan commission took up the case last week but is holding the vote until after an Aug. 3 meeting with neighbors (6 p.m., Kidd Springs Recreation Center).

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Several from the Kidd Springs Neighborhood Association spoke in opposition to the parking variance last week.

Randall Richins, who lives on Elsbeth, said the company has been asked several times to apply for landmark designation on the building, which would prevent it from being torn down or the exterior from being drastically changed.

While the building’s zoning of WMU-3 means that the owner could tear it down and replace it with a three-story building with a mix of residential, shops or offices, the plan is to reuse the old house, which was built by the first mayor from Oak Cliff.

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Still there are some who question whether the company is doing enough to preserve the building.

Jane Bryant, who owns 600 Elsbeth, wrote to plan commissioner Mike Anglin:

“The current owners of 635 N. Zang have the let the structure languish and it is in a deplorable condition. I hope with the additional parking spaces provided, the owner will finally be motivated to be a responsible caregiver of the property and history. Hopefully they will also remove the pile of debris which for the past year has been as high as two stories.”

The plan commission is expected to take up the case again on Aug. 17.

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  • grannybunny

    I’m not opposed to saving the building, but if Lake is telling the truth, it will be anyway, but maybe moved to another site. The parking variance is a deal-breaker. There is no proximity to rail. The streetcar can only carry a relative handful of people at a time, and is too slow and lacking in destinations to work for commuters. It will just be a colorful attraction for tourists, like the McKinney Avenue Trolley. The neighborhood will remain walkable for those in the immediate area, but is also a destination for many others, who will have no meaningful alternative to their cars. We bike, but it’s already feeling like taking your life in your hands. This is still a residential area, and we don’t want the congestion, noise and other problems currently plaguing Lower Greenville, the West Village, etc.

  • plsiii

    You should rally the neighborhood to salvage such a historic structure. It would be a shame for that building to go away, only to be replaced with surface parking and a more mundane stripmall type building… This instance will not make parking any worse, as you mentioned you should brace yourself (and encourage all those parking garages/apartments to open their parking to the public) because it’s only just begun.
    This site’s proximity to the rail line and many new parking garages makes it a perfect opportunity to set a precedent and force/allow adjacent property owners to share the burden to meet the outdated parking requirements. We are a city, it’s time we begin to act like one and embrace people not their automobiles.

    Also, maybe “resident parking” permitted areas are something you could pursue.

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  • grannybunny

    No, the neighborhood is absolutely opposed. Traffic in the area has already gotten terrible, and is about to get worse. Residents in the area are already having problems parking in front of their own homes, and it will be awful when the City installs the parking meters on Bishop.

  • plsiii

    Give them the parking variance, along with landmark designation!