Public Notice: Pull Up the Drawbridge

FoHP has their historic zoning; no one else need apply

Public Notice: Pull Up the Drawbridge

Here's an ironic little side note to the tempest in the teapot of historical zoning for Hyde Park's Baker School – recently renovated by Alamo Drafthouse owners Tim and Karrie League, and now serving as the company headquarters – that will be wending its way to City Council today.

No one disputes the historic value of the school building itself; that vote has been unanimous at both the Historic Landmark and Planning Commissions. What's at issue is the status of the rest of the grounds. A local social media group, Friends of Hyde Park, has been roiling the waters, trying to pretend this has something to do with affordable housing (it doesn't; the city let that ship sail when they declined to buy the property themselves) and complaining about extending the historic designation to the entire property – including surface parking lots, but also historic trees and the site context and sight lines that are part of the determination process for historic appropriateness.

But here's the punchline: FoHP, as it turns out, is housed a few blocks away at 4300 Avenue D, in a single-­family house on a very large lot, a third of an acre that's – you guessed it – historically zoned. And the historical zoning naturally extends to the entire property, including – you guessed it again – the driveway and garage. Because that's the way these things work.

More consequential for the city in the long run is another issue coming to Council today (Dec. 10): the redevelopment of the HealthSouth tract at 12th and Red River, probably the most valuable piece of surplus property the city owns at this time. It's another complicated tale, too deep to get into here, but it once again pits the two main wings of Council against each other, both claiming the progessive mantle. The pro-­development wing, as always led by Mayor Steve Adler, is pushing for fast action – authorizing city staff to cut a development deal with the highest bidder – while the go-slow folks want to maximize the direct public benefits, and seeing this as the last best chance to create subsidized affordable housing Downtown, they want the decision to come back to Council before final approval. Who's right? Who's left? Who wins? Stay tuned.

Stuff the Bus (minus the bus): Like so much else this year, this annual food drive has gone virtual for 2020 – there are no actual buses to fill with food, but there are even more hungry mouths than usual this holiday season, so Central Texas Food Bank is hoping that won't stop folks from giving. Donate through Dec. 24 at or at any local Whole Foods Market, at the registers labeled "Feed4More."

Last-minute shoppers: This coming Tuesday, Dec. 15, is the absolute last day of the last open enrollment period to get health insurance for 2021 through the Affordable Care Act. The Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAAM) is taking appointments to get local musicians enrolled (see, or you can set up a phone consultation with Foundation Communities (

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