City of Victoria considers protecting historic structures


April 19, 2010 at 5:04 p.m.
Updated April 18, 2010 at 11:19 p.m.

The public will have a chance to listen Tuesday as the city council discusses helping preserve Victoria's history and sprucing up the downtown area.

Council Member Denise Rangel has proposed the council consider adopting a temporary moratorium on demolishing any of the city's historical buildings.

City Attorney Thomas Gwosdz will present a report on the possibility of funding a Main Street program discussed earlier by the council.

"I think it's really important to put a moratorium on a historic structure that's about to be demolished," Rangel said. "That would give people an opportunity to purchase the property, to move the property or to see the restoration."

She said she would consider 60 days ample time. Rangel is hoping the rest of the council will agree to put it on a later agenda for adoption.

Her idea was sparked by demolition earlier this month of the Krenek House at the corner of Main and North streets for 84 years. It was demolished because of its deteriorating condition.

The structure was listed with the U.S. Department of the Interior's National Register of Historic Places for its unique architecture. It was a rare Spanish colonial revival home.

"We have a beautiful downtown," Rangel said. "We have a lot of historic areas, and this would not necessarily just be for downtown."

The council also has been asked to look into applying to the Texas Historical Commission to enter the Main Street urban program, which would apply to 44 blocks in the downtown area.

Joni Brown with Keep Victoria Beautiful said the area general covers most of the commercial operations in the area bound by North, Convent, Glass and William streets.

Brown said this would not become a program of the city or Keep Victoria Beautiful, although her organization would act as the umbrella organization to help get it started. It would then become its own entity.

Gwosdz said he has reviewed five or six different ways to possibly fund the program. "I'm simply reporting back whether most of these funding recommendations would work, and most of them would."

Brown said the Texas Historical Commission would provide ongoing training for Main Street staff and directors. The program would require a five-year commitment, she said.

"They will also provide on-going architectural design assistance, and this is really, really important," Brown said. "There are very few architects out there whose claim to fame are architectural buildings."

Brown said, for instance, if someone wanted to build a on a vacant lot in the zone, the architect would help make the facade fit in with the historical buildings. The state would also provide consultation to downtown merchants about visual merchandising, such as window displays.

No one would be bound by any rules, she said.

"Our responsibility in this has to been to present information to council," Brown said. "So we've done what we've been asked to do."



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