City Hall

Historic Buildings Task Force Will Tear into Dallas Demolition Rules

Acknowledging that maybe the tear down first, ask questions later policy with regard to old buildings that aren't protected landmarks might not be the best thing, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and District 14 City Council member Philip Kingston have teamed up to form the most Dallas of all pseudo-governmental units. A task force.

The unit, lead by current Landmark Commission chair Katherine D. Seale, will "look at the current programs and policies of the city's historic preservation program and evaluate them for their effectiveness to protect Dallas' heritage while encouraging the management and growth of downtown and surrounding areas," says a press release announcing the task force.

Kingston says the task force will try find the right balance between protecting buildings that deserve to preserved, and protecting everything that happens to be old, regardless of historical or architectural value.

"The initial thing that I think [the task force] will accomplish is to present a list of downtown structures that they recommend for landmark status," Kingston says.

The task force will also examine how the city handles historic preservation as a whole. Kingston pointed to the current clamor over the 76-year-old Lakewood Theater as an example of the type of situation that the task force will consider.

"You have an owner that doesn't want landmark status, you've got legitimate historic preservation interest in the building, and how do you square those two? It's just a difficult question," he says.

The task force's first meeting is set for January 14. Any ideas they come up with will be passed on to the council.

"You know, they don't have any power, it's just the power of whatever good ideas they come up with and we can implement them at city hall. Obviously, my council colleagues will have input into that as well," Kingston says.