Iconic Preservation Concepts

Prepared by: Dave Sullivan, Chair, Planning Commission

Revised: 10/25/06

All comments below are in the spirit of brainstorming. Nothing is final, these are just ideas ... Intent is to create language that roughly parallels Historic Zoning for Iconic Preservation. (compare § 25-2-351Ñ359)

This version has been modified after meetings with City of Austin Planning staff, Heritage Society Preservation Subcommittee, Historic Landmark Commission, Downtown Commission, and West End Austin Alliance.


1. Definition & Criteria for Business

Number of designees may be limited to 12 (?) the first year, 4 (?) added in subsequent years. Develop point system based on the following characteristics defining "iconic":

unique – few imitators

independent – not a chain or franchise

eclectic – promotes cultural and lifestyle diversity

popular – would be bemoaned if lost

famous – "Buddy Holly played here," "Bill Clinton ate here,"

sustainable – all the above elements have persisted at least 5 (?) years


2. Possible Rewards to Property Owner and/or Business Owner

Tax abatement similar to historic zoning – but this may not be legal.

Taxes frozen on both business and property.

Zero-interest loans.

CoA provides information technology help.

CoA offers free advertising.

Ease in permitting for improvements or up-zoning.

Density bonus.

CoA financial and permitting assistance in rebuilding after a fire or other disaster.

Higher priority for CoA infrastructure repair or capital improvement (e.g., sidewalk repair or Great Streets upgrade, flood prevention, graffiti removal).


3. Preservation

Business owner would sign memorandum of understanding regarding maintaining character.

Business owner has the right to abandon/quit an iconic business.

Property-owner has the right to not renew the lease for an iconic business, but then loses rewards.

If business owner closes the iconic business or loses iconic status, business and property owner lose the rewards.


4. Selection

Business owner and property owner jointly make application to Historic Landmark Commission.

Application may include press clippings, letters from customers, and letter from owner stating intent and plans to preserve the iconic features.

Public hearing and votes by HLC and PC, then approval by CC.


5. Review

Historic Preservation Office to periodically review status of iconic businesses.

Dramatic change in character would lead to loss of designation, which business owner could appeal to HLC, PC, and CC.

Comments may be sent to Dave Sullivan, sully.jumpnet@sbcglobal.net

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