Can house built in 1961 be historic?

Nov. 28, 2012 at 3:15 PM
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AUSTIN, Texas, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- A woman who bought a house built in 1961 in Austin, Texas, planning to tear it down could be foiled by its designation as a historic building.

Ashley Amini says the $1.1 million house is too small and does not really take advantage of its one-acre lot, The Austin American-Statesman reported Tuesday. Amini, a real estate agent, is fighting the historic label.

Steve Sadowsky, Austin's historic preservation officer, said the house was designed by Leonard Lundgren. Lundgren, trained as an architect at the University of Texas, worked all over the world but his only houses are in Austin.

Critics say Austin has become too quick to use the historic building designation, which can be given to buildings at least 50 years old. Owners of those buildings get substantial breaks on property taxes but cannot tear them down or even make major changes in their appearance.

"1961 doesn't seem like history to me," said Jim George, a lawyer who has sued the city on behalf of three clients. "It's hard to understand, unless there is something truly unique about this building, how it could be historic."

The city council is expected to vote early next year on Amini's house.

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