Additional Landmark Designation Refused for Lake Cliff Properties

Demolitions possible after Landmark designation refused

Demolition is a possibility for several old Lake Cliff area properties after a Dallas City Council vote Wednesday against expanding a Landmark Historic district in Oak Cliff.

The owners of nine properties appealed a Landmark Commission decision to initiate expansion of the Lake Cliff Landmark District first established by the city in 1997.

The property owners complained the new Landmark Commission process was flawed with too little opportunity to respond and City Council Members agreed.

“I think that property rights and ownership rights should always be paramount to a commission coming in,” said Councilman Kevin Felder. “It is clear in my mind that there was an error, but it is also clear that this was more or less a power play.”

Property owner Larry Zavas said his apartment buildings on Blaylock Drive, built in the 1920’s, are already listed in the National Register of Historic Places and he takes very good care of them. But they are just outside the existing City Landmark District and he wants to avoid the additional city restrictions on his property.

“Someone comes to you and says we want to do this with your property. It doesn’t sound American to me,” Zavas said. “We bought the properties that we live in now because they were outside this historic thing.”

The expansion was initiated in response to concerns about demolition of older buildings in the Oak Cliff area, according to David Preziosi, Executive Director of Preservation Dallas.

He cites the loss of the El Corazon Restaurant at Zang Boulevard and Davis Street which has been replaced with a CVS store.

“What we want is that there is a process, that the public can have a say in these important historic buildings that are part of historic districts,” Preziosi said.

The Landmark Commission held four meetings on the issue and a future City Council vote would have been required before the expansion would become official. But the property owners disputed the initial steps. It set up the unusual City Council review that was held Wednesday.

Mark Crosslin owns another Blaylock Lane property in the expansion area that was built in 1912.

“The ability of the Landmark Commission to annex property so easily should not be so,” he said.

His property is under renovation which could have been complicated by the Landmark regulations he will avoid. But Crosslin said he also has an approved demolition permit for the property which he is now free to use without further Landmark review. He said renovation may be more expensive than removing the old structure and building a replacement.

That is what Preservation Dallas was hoping to stop.

“We could lose some of those properties in the interim while we are going through this process,” Preziosi said.

Wednesday’s City Council decision imposes a two year moratorium on Lake Cliff Landmark expansion and also instructs the Landmark Commission to review procedures for any other expansion.

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Lake Cliff Appeal Presentation 040418 (Text)
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