Developer Still Plans to Raze 1929 Humble Service Station in Oak Cliff

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Neighbors have pretty much given up on saving the vaguely octagonal white-and-blue building at the corner of Zang and Beckley that housed a long-departed Humble service station.

Developers Jay Song and John Chong plan to demolish the 1929 structure to make way for a convenience store. It's going to happen. The Lake Cliff Historic District ends across the street so, as long as they stay within city code, they can do what they want with the property.

"Legally, there is nothing any of us can do to save the building," said Jennifer Thornton, president of the Lake Cliff Neighborhood Association. "That's life in a transitional neighborhood."

Instead, neighbors are trying to blunt the ugliness of what they expect will be an eyesore. Local architect Robert Garza is volunteering to help design a building that fits with the surrounding architecture, and developers and neighbors are scheduled to convene in Councilwoman Delia Jasso's office on Thursday to sort out their differences.

Thornton said the developers, who recently built a city-subsidized convenience store near Paul Quinn College, have been open to residents' input.

"In their mind what they were producing is gorgeous... When I told them it was atrocious, they were shocked," Thornton said.

The developers' seemingly good intentions have not assuaged everyone's concerns. Katrina Whatley, who lives across the street, worries about the setback variance Chong and Song will reportedly seek from the city that will allow them to build to the street.

Already, Whatley takes her car to Spiral Diner because of low visibility at the intersection, which will be worsened as the building encroaches further upon the street.

Michael Amonett of the Old Oak Cliff Conservation League, which announced the Humble station as the first property on its 2012 Architecture at Risk list, still holds onto a sliver of hope the building can be saved but worries that the proposed zoning changes will seal its fate.

Thornton has come to terms with the building's fate but is more optimistic that the final product won't be terrible.

"They could come in and say 'We don't really care what you think. ... Well thank God its not something you would have found in the suburbs. (It's an) if you can't beat them, join them kind of thing."

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