Late last year, several significant historic structures were demolished in downtown Dallas along Main and Elm. One dated back to 1885 and was one of the oldest buildings downtown. Landmark Commission Chair and former director of Preservation Dallas Katherine Seale was chosen to head a Task Force to explore ways to keep this from happening again.
The task force has released their final recommendations on ways to better address the issue of the lack of protections for non-designated historic buildings in downtown Dallas. In January 2015, a task force comprised of downtown developers, property owners and representatives from local organizations within the preservation, planning and architecture community began meeting weekly to look at the current programs and policies of Dallas’ preservation program. Their charge was to evaluate current preservation programs for their effectiveness protecting Dallas’ heritage while allowing for new development to take place downtown and in surrounding areas. During their meetings they heard from local experts, researched best practices from other cities around the country, and developed a set of recommendations for the City of Dallas to better protect its historic resources. During the task force’s April 1 meeting, the group voted unanimously to approve a three-phase set of recommendations that will result in benefits to all downtown stakeholders. The recommendations include:
Phase 1: Immediate Solutions (0-12 months)
1. Advocacy: Establish broad‐based Preservation Solutions Committee to advocate for historic fabric and be its voice as the City grows and evolves. Its first order of business is to help implement the following recommendations.
2. Simplify Designation: Streamline the landmark designation application and process.
3. Assess Staffing: Broaden staff capabilities to include planning and provide a new focus on public education. Review staff priorities to expedite landmark designations, file certificates of appropriateness, field inquiries, and assist owners with incentives. Fund two additional planners.
4. Demolition Delay: Enhance notification and expand staff review time for proposed demolition of historic buildings in Greater Downtown to foster dialogue and consider alternatives.
Phase 2: Near Term Solutions (1 to 3 years)
5. Education: Educate the public about the goals and accomplishments of preservation.
6. Downtown Survey: Conduct a new, state of‐the‐art survey of Greater Downtown as a base layer for direction, to establish reservation priorities, and to provide a tool for existing and future planning. Explore funding sources such as Community Development Block Grants, Certified Local Government money, and private foundations.
7. Incentives: Identify strategies and incentives that address market conditions and barriers to redevelopment to re‐animate vacant and underutilized buildings, such as: more flexibility in preservation criteria, parking requirements, permitting, and code requirements.
Phase 3: Long Term Solutions (3 to 5 years)
8. Preservation Plan: Prepare and adopt a new Preservation Plan for Dallas to address the programs and policies that impact the City’s historic urban fabric. Explore funding sources such as public/private partnerships, private foundations, and private sector money.
9. Planning: Create a forum for strategic interdepartmental partnerships where a common interest is being pursued such as Capital Improvements, Tax Increment Finance Districts, and Use/Zoning, and certain aspects of Economic Development.
The executive summary of the recommendations and the full report, with more detailed information for each recommendation, are available by clicking on the links below:
Downtown Historic Preservation Task Force Final Report Executive Summary 4-1-15
Downtown Historic Preservation Task Force Final Report 4-1-15
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