The 107-year-old mayor’s house property in Oak Cliff falls nine parking spaces short of what is required for a restaurant.
The City Plan Commission on Thursday fell short of denying a restaurant for the mayor’s house, on Zang just north of Davis, but it did shoot down the property owner’s request to provide less parking than allowed.
Jim Lake Cos. requested a break on parking based on the building’s historic value and its proximity to the streetcar.
The commission voted 6-5 against that proposal; three members were absent and couldn’t vote.
City code would require the 3,000-square-foot building to provide 31 parking spaces to operate as a restaurant. The property only has enough room for about 22 parking spaces, including seven head-in spaces on Neely Street, where there is now parallel parking.
Kidd Springs Neighborhood Association members say traffic and parking already is a struggle in their neighborhood because of their proximity to Bishop Arts and that a restaurant with not enough parking at this location would make it worse.
Preservation Dallas and Landmark Commission member Michael Amonett supported Lake’s bid for reduced parking so that the building would be preserved. Lake has said that if he didn’t get the parking reduction that he would move the house to land he owns in Waxahachie and redevelop or sell the mayor’s house lot on Zang at Neely.
Commission member Jaynie Schultz sided with the preservationists: “We’re going to lose a historically significant home for nine spots. One of the hardest things we do in this city is balance our growth with our history … this is a very minor exception in the big picture.”
One commission member, Korey Mack, voted no based on original home owner Mayor George Sergeant’s association with the recently removed statue of Robert E. Lee; Sergeant was mayor in 1936 and dedicated the statue when President Franklin D. Roosevelt was in Dallas for the Texas Centennial.
Other members argued that Lake shouldn’t receive parking credits for a “legacy building” since the company tore down the building’s Neely-facing facade.
Zoning regulations for the Oak Cliff “gateway,” passed in 2015, specifically state that efforts should be made to gain historic landmark status for a few properties within the gateway, including the mayor’s house. But Lake hasn’t sought landmark status for the building. Jim Lake Jr. told the commission Thursday that historic status causes too many problems for redevelopment and that while the company never sought historic landmark status for its Bishop Arts buildings nor Jefferson Tower, they have redeveloped them with sensitivity to their historic nature.
“He wants parking reductions but doesn’t want to apply for historic status,” commission member Michael Jung said. “If you want to live by the legacy parking reduction, you have to die by the legacy parking reduction.”
Commission member Mike Anglin, who represents Oak Cliff, proposed allowing the restaurant use but without the parking reduction for legacy status, and that passed.
City staff said that Lake could still renovate the building for a restaurant, but the lack of parking spaces would prevent the operator from receiving a certificate of occupancy. Anglin suggested that a restaurant could occupy only the first floor of the two-story house and still fall into compliance with parking code.