Naked City

Washington Square Reprieve

Before a packed house, the city's Historic Landmarks Commission voted earlier this week to postpone granting a demolition permit on a cluster of four cottages on Washington Square, built in the Thirties by UT's first athletic director, L. Theo Bellmont.

Commissioners got an earful from residents of the surrounding Heritage neighborhood and other citizens who opposed plans by developer Larry Paul Manley (former executive director of the Texas Dept. of Housing and Community Affairs) and his family to replace the cottages with an upscale condo complex. "I don't want you to look lightly on what Washington Square is," UT architecture professor Simon Atkinson told the commission. "There's no other example like it in Austin."

Atkinson presented a lengthy miniseminar on the history and character of the wide one-block street (west of the Drag between 30th and 31st), highlighting Washington Square's tall trees and personal touches rather than the cottages themselves, which he described as "not posh" yet significant enough to save. More than 50 neighborhood residents have signed a petition in agreement. Representatives for the developers asserted the development would become an "anchor" for Washington Square.

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