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Travis Heights residents try to save historic fourplex, aesthetic of neighborhood

Residents in the Travis Heights neighborhood say over the past two years they have watched homes they consider historic be demolished and replace with modern builds.

AUSTIN, Texas — In and around Austin, housing developers are buying multi-unit properties and replacing them with single-family homes.

According the Historic Landmark Commission, this is a practice that is not new and likely not going away any time soon.

Residents in the Travis Heights neighborhood say over the past two years, they have watched homes they consider historic be demolished and replaced with more modern builds. 

Joel Rasmussen has lived on Monroe Street in Travis Heights for more than 20 years. He said each time he and his wife go for a walk, he discovers a new area with a new build.

“It’ll probably be someone coming in with a lot of money, and I guess that’s where Austin’s going," Rasmussen said. "But I don’t know that it has to, necessarily.”

In March 2022, Rasmussen said a developer, Oam Parkash, bought a fourplex that sits across the street from his home. According to the Historic Landmark Commission, the home on 409 Monroe East St. was built by the Adrian family in 1911. By 1930, they built two apartments on a second floor that usually housed two couples or small families. The Adrian family also converted their garage into a unit.

The property has been a "dense" multi-family property for most of its existence.

“There’s just so much character here, there’s so much craftsmanship, and it’s a beautiful representation of what Austin was and will continue to be so long as people maintain these older homes," Rasmussen said.

Learning the news of the developer's plans for the property, residents in Travis Heights went to the Historic Landmark Committee's first meeting of 2023 to fight for the preservation of the East Monroe corner property with hopes it would be considered officially deemed historic. Public comment over the fourplex lasted nearly an hour.

Terri Myers, a board member of the HLC, told KVUE "a lot of Austin's growth stems, in part, to and because of Austin's historic neighborhoods." However, there are requirements and receiving the status takes time.

Myers also shared that the HLC receives three to four demolition applications for properties in Travis Heights every month.

Rasmussen said he and the surrounding neighbors don't want to see the authenticity of the neighborhood fall away.

"I think the shear number of permits for demolition and actual demolitions that we’re seeing in this neighborhood is what made everyone stand up and take notice that if we don’t take action, we’re going to lose the character of the neighborhood that attracted everyone here in the first place," Rasmussen said.

Oam Parkash told HLC staff that plans of demolition are being reconsidered after hearing public concern. However, as of Friday evening, the demolition permit for 409 East Monroe St. has not been pulled, and a demolition permit sign sits outside the fourplex property.

Boomtown is KVUE's series covering the explosive growth in Central Texas. For more Boomtown stories, head to KVUE.com/Boomtown

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