Lake Cliff could expand historic district, too late to save 1925 apartment building

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A 92-year-old apartment building at one entrance of the Lake Cliff Historic District likely will be demolished or moved so that a new development can be constructed there.

When Lake Cliff became a historic district in 1995, certain properties were cut out of the district, including the one slated for demolition at 834 Blaylock at Zang. The Dallas Landmark Commission on Monday approved initiating historic designation for 11 properties near Lake Cliff (find photos of them below). The unanimous vote places demolition of those properties on hold for about two years while it’s determined whether it’s appropriate to add those 11 properties to the historic district.

But that measure came too late for 834 Blaylock.

The property owner filed a demolition permit for the structure at the end of August, so he has a right to tear it down or have it moved, pending a demolition delay hearing.

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Lake Cliff Neighborhood Association president Jennifer Thornton said she and her neighbors are asking “to make right a poor political decision made in the mid ’90s,” when property owners living elsewhere “convinced leadership to carve out their properties.”

One old house on Marsalis already has been demolished, she said, and the one on Blaylock could be next.

Those with development in mind aren’t the only ones who oppose historic designation for the properties.

AIDS Services of Dallas occupies Hillcrest House, a group home at 834 N. Marsalis. That nonprofit already deals with a tremendous amount of bureaucracy related to federal, state and local certifications, said its CEO Don Maison.

“To come to another commission when I need to paint a windowsill is just too much,” he said.

A couple of other property owners, some occupants and some landlords, also asked to be kept out of the district because of the time and cost associated with making renovations in a historic district.

Landmark Commission chair Katherine Seale proposed creating a task force, which she appointed on the spot from those who spoke for and against the initiation Monday. Aside from determining what’s appropriate for the 11 properties in question, they will be asked to create rules for new construction in the district, which the current historic overlay doesn’t mention. And they will examine best practices for Marsalis, which has a wide range of building types, aged from 1888 to the 1960s. Also, buildings on Marsalis can be torn down and replaced with 5- and 8-story structures.

The 11 properties that could be added to the historic district include two vacant lots, at 830 and 839 N. Marsalis, and these nine properties:

826 Blaylock, 1925
832 Blaylock
832 Blaylock, 1925
834 Blaylock, 1925, demolition pending
1103 N. Crawford, 1925
1105 N. Crawford, 1925
1119 N. Crawford, 1925
829 Marsalis, 1925
Hillcrest House, 834 N. Marsalis, 1930
835 N. Marsalis
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