Naked City

Bellmont Battle Is Lost

Impassioned pleas from neighborhood residents aside, City Council members weren't convinced that four 1930s-era bungalows on Washington Square warranted the historic zoning status that would spare them the wrecking ball. The council last week voted unanimously against the zoning, thereby giving property owner Larry Paul Manley the go-ahead on his plans to build a high-end apartment complex in the Heritage neighborhood north of West Campus.

The four small cottages are the legacy of famed former UT Athletic Director L. Theo Bellmont, who built the rental properties circa 1936. Despite their respectable age, City Historic Preservation Officer Steve Sadowsky couldn't bring himself to recommend denying a demolition permit. His own review of the properties found little in the way of architectural significance to justify historic preservation.

Nevertheless, the cottages are very much an old and familiar piece of the crazy-quilt character that makes Washington Square so desirable, residents argued. But as Mayor Pro Tem Jackie Goodman pointed out, the council had few options to consider. She said there is no mechanism in place to preserve the certain character or culture that some neighborhoods possess. Perhaps, she noted, the cottages represent "a time and a place and a style and a lifestyle that we don't have any more."

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Historic zoning, Larry Manley, Steve Sadowsky, Washington Square, Jackie Goodman, Theo Bellmont

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