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San Antonio: Dignowity Hill Townhome Project Held Back for Revisions

Feature Illustration (above): A PSW rendering of their concept for a narrow ribbon-style courtyard at 931 N. Olive Street.

Posted: 9-5-2019

by Adolfo Pesquera

San Antonio (Bexar County) — An Austin-based developer postponed a hearing on its request for concept approval on a 16-unit townhome project in the Dignowity Hill Historic District.

The multifamily housing company had hearing a scheduled before the Historic and Design Review Commission on Sept. 4, but that was rescheduled to Sept. 18.

The delay was necessary to address a long list of concerns raised by the review committee and city staff.

StoryBuilt, formerly known as PSW Real Estate, describes their concept as four separate structures, each one encompassing four attached, two-story townhomes. The living spaces are increased by having larger second-story floor plans that are cantilevered. 

Courtesy: StoryBuilt

The project site is located on a single lot at the southwest corner of North Olive Street and Lamar Street. The land area, with almost three-quarts of an acre, would be sufficient to build five single family homes. In getting to 16 units, StoryBuilt was proposing a single narrow outdoor common area and very narrow gaps between the buildings.

The site plan also concentrates all parking into a single narrow surface area with driveways at Lamar and an alley known as Fayn Way. The project address is 931 N. Olive St.

It is a block north of Lockwood Park and two blocks north of Dignowity Park. The two parks are being remodeled into one park as part of a city neighborhood revival project. VBX reported this project in March when it came before the HDRC for its Certificate of Appropriateness.

Google Map of the area in Dignowity Hill Historic District where PSW is planning a townhome development.

The HDRC’s Design Review Committee met with the StoryBuilt architect, Hank Parker, Aug. 27; StoryBuilt does its architectural designs in-house. Committee members said the setbacks should be increased to be consistent with adjacent structures. They also had concerns about the amount of impervious cover.

The Office of Historic Preservation opposed the project and listed 10 areas that needed addressing.

  • Reduce impervious cover for buildings and surface paving to 50% of the lot area.
  • Revise setbacks on Olive and Lamar that are greater than those of adjacent historic structures.
  • Incorporate elements to the elevations that address the character of Olive and Lamar; also, Lamar should be no “side facades” facing a street.
  • Separate the widths of each structure such that overall footprints be consistent with the neighborhood.
  • Foundation heights shall align with those of adjacent structures.
  • Replace the proposed fixed square windows with traditionally sized, one-over-one sash windows; and window openings should relate to those found in the district.
  • The proposed stucco be eliminated and the composite siding feature an exposure of 4 inches, a thickness of ¾-inch, and mitered corners.
  • Wood or aluminum clad windows should be used, but rails must be no taller than 1.25 inches and stiles no wider than 2.25 inches, and color selection much be presented to staff. There must be a minimum 2-inch depth between the front of the window trim and the window sash.
  • Porch massing shall be comparable to that found in the district.
  • The parking location and design shall be modified: “off street parking should not be added within front yard setbacks as to not disrupt the continuity of the streetscape, and that off street parking should be designed to be accessed from alleys or secondary streets, rather than from principal streets.”

Proposed conceptual site plan for the 931 N. Olive development. Courtesy: PSW.

StoryBuilt had proposed impervious cover of 30,000 square feet on a 32,548-square-foot lot. The total square footage of the buildings was 28,000 SF, and the surface parking was for 20 vehicles.

At two stories, the maximum height for the original elevations was 28 feet.


Related Images

Construction Preview
By |2019-09-05T11:45:06-06:00September 5th, 2019|Construction Preview, Feature Story|

About the Author:

Adolfo Pesquera (Reporter/Editor) is a veteran news journalist. He has worked for Hearst Corp., American Lawyer Media, News Corp and Freedom Communications. His work has been published in newspapers and magazines across the USA. He is a journalism graduate of UT-RGV. He writes, edits and creates digital pages for VBX.

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