An 88-year-old downtown home that neighbors say is part of the fabric of their community could be torn down to make room for a parking lot in the coming months.
The Austin-based computer chip firm Cirrus Logic Inc. purchased the property at 606 Rio Grande St. near its headquarters in December. The company wants to raze the canary yellow home and an adjacent garage apartment to build a parking lot or some other building for company use.
Neighbors say the change would detract from the neighborhood’s historical identity.
“It’s important to preserve the residential and historical fabric of this neighborhood,” said Ted Siff, president of the Original Austin Neighborhood Association, which stretches from Lady Bird Lake to West 15th Street and from North Lamar Boulevard to Guadalupe Street. “Preserving these homes will accomplish that. Demolishing them won’t.”
The city’s Historic Preservation Office staff determined that the structures, which date back to at least 1925, have no historical or architectural significance.
But the Austin Historic Landmark Commission decided late Monday to postpone a decision on the house’s fate because of accusations that demolition work had been started without the proper permits.
Neighbors reported that work was being conducted at the site before the commission met on Monday.
Window glass was removed during asbestos abatement, possibly in violation of city codes, said Steve Sadowsky, the city’s Historic Preservation Officer.
Neighbors also said window sashes and columns were missing from the property over the weekend.
Cirrus’ attorney Richard Suttle said that the project contractors had told the company that permits were not required for removal of the glass and asbestos, and that Cirrus has not done anything wrong.
“You have a downtown major employer that has been successful and provided more activities,” Suttle said. “It’s exactly what we want downtown.”
Before the structures are demolished, the neighborhood group has asked the city to conduct further research on their historical value, or consider relocating and preserving them.
Historic records show that the structure, which was originally two separate but adjacent houses, was built in 1925, but could have been built as early as 1901.
The 1903 city directory shows that a manager at the Austin Oil Company, a cottonseed oil mill at East 5th and Chicon streets, lived in the home until 1905.
Sometime in the 1970s, a roof was built to connect the two houses and more recently, the structure housed the Aquarelle restaurant.