A rendering of the front of the Townhouse would face North Olive Street provided by Stephen Green to HDRC.
A rendering of the front of the Townhouse, which would face North Olive Street. Image provided by Stephen Green to HDRC.

Editor’s note: Due to a reporter’s error, an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the Historic and Design Review Commission approved the design for a townhouse development on Lockwood Park in Dignowity Hill. The approval was not given as part of the HDRC’s consent agenda, as the reporter mistakenly inferred. Commissioners voted to return the case to the Design Review Committee.

The last vacant property in the Dignowity Hill Historic District that overlooks Lockwood Park with a view of downtown San Antonio might soon be developed into a three-unit townhouse, but it won’t be the design that owner Stephen Green brought before the Historic Design and Review Commission on Wednesday.

The Historic and Design Review Commission (HDRC) rejected the conceptual design of the two-story units on the vacant lot at 810 North Olive St, which is flanked by historic homes and is across the street from Lockwood Park, and sent the case back to the Design Review Committee. Commissioners concluded that Green’s design was incompatible with the surrounding historic residences.

A view of downtown from the lot in Dignowity Hill. Photo by Joan Vinson.
A view of downtown from the lot in Dignowity Hill. Photo by Joan Vinson.

Betty Green, a long-time Dignowity Hill resident and owner of the vacant lot, gave the plot of land to her son, Stephen Green, for development. Stephen has told neighbors he intends to live in one of the new townhouses. Betty declined to comment Wednesday afternoon during the meeting and again on Thursday morning. Countless individuals have tried to purchase the large lot from the Green family in recent years to no avail.

City staff had recommended that the building’s entrance, porch, garage doors, windows and doors be similar in proportion to nearby historic homes in Dignowity Hill. Staff found that the “overall massing and width” and some contemporary designs of the project was inconsistent with the neighborhood’s aesthetic.

The proposed materials for the development include brick, Hardie board siding, vinyl windows, and composite shingles.

Monica Savino, chair of the Dignowity Hill Neighborhood Association Architectural Review Committee, said she agreed with staff’s findings that the complex is incompatible with the scale and height of other structures in the neighborhood.

“The height and the scale of that project on that lot with the adjacent (properties) is not compatible with the historic district,” she said. “That is the result of putting together three single-family units in one huge building.”

Two Dignowity Hill residents, Mary Anguiano and Tony Gradney, who live in one of the houses that sit immediately behind the vacant lot, spoke in favor of the project.

There is growing concern among residents in Dignowity Hill that the City is approving construction of townhome projects in the historic district that would not be approved in King William, Monte Vista or other historic districts. The high number of vacant lots in Dignowity Hill and the affordability of property there distinguish it from other historic residential districts.

Many young professionals are moving into Dignowity Hill, purchasing and renovating vacant houses, many of them a century old or more. They, too, share the same concerns as longtime residents that new construction in the historic district is being approved, even when the designs and quality of building materials are incompatible with the surrounding housing.

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*Featured/top image: A rendering of the front of the Townhouse, facing North Olive Street. Image provided by Stephen Green to HDRC.

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Former Rivard Report Assistant Editor Joan Vinson is a San Antonio native who graduated from The University of Texas with a bachelor's degree in journalism. She's a yoga fanatic and an adventurer at heart....