The city’s new preservation task force just started meeting, and already they’re rolling along. A couple of Oak Cliff residents have reported back to us on happenings at the meetings.

Landmark commissioner Michael Amonett reports that the committee is looking at ways other cities encourage preservation and how Dallas can mimic some of those practices.

Here is his takeaway:

– Hotel taxes in Austin are used to repair facades that make the area more attractive to tourists
– They cap the taxable value at the pre-improvement amount to disincentivize tear downs [in other words, Austin doesn’t hike property values on historic structures once they’ve been restored] – Reform the building code for old buildings. Now it requires them to do things beyond affordability.
– 30-day waiting period before demolitions downtown. Encourage at least retaining the facade
– Preservation should concern itself with things like streetscapes and historic context, not just designation
– TIFs should have preservation components that fund preservation but that also have teeth so the work is lasting and can’t be torn down
– City staff’s preservation department should be connected to Economic Development, City Design and the Park Department. More staff is needed if we’re serious about this

Neighborhood resident Jef Tingley attended the Jan. 28 meeting with Mark Doty, a historian with the city of Dallas and city planner Robin McCaffrey.

About 60 percent of the buildings that are on the National Register of Historic

Mark Doty in follow up to a question raised in the first meeting reported “approximately 60% of the buildings in the Downtown Dallas Historic District have no local protection and could be demolished, according to Doty. That includes Neiman Marcus and the Wilson Building.

Robin McCaffrey provided historical context on the history of urban planning and preservation in Dallas.

Preservation has become less about continuity and design standards and more about architectural style, and that this has damaged the role of preservation. With the focus being redirected from outcome to process, along with a lack of advocacy, the historic preservation department has moved from being integrated within city planning to being isolated.

The committee’s next meeting is at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 11.