In response to the demolitions in downtown Dallas last fall, Mayor Rawlings and City Council Member Kingston authorized the creation of a task force in December to 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. The Downtown Historic Preservation Task Force began meeting in January and will met through March.
Task force members draw from a range of downtown developers, property owners, and representatives from local organizations from the preservation, planning and architecture community. The members include:
The first few meetings focused on the task force purpose, overview of the current City of Dallas Historic Preservation Program, economic incentives in the City Development Code, and the preservation status of the Dallas Downtown National Register Historic District. There was also a special presentation by Robin McCaffrey about the preservation movement from strategy to objective and finding its way back. Robin also talked about many of the early preservation efforts in the city and how those were accomplished.
A “north star” goal was established by the task force to guide future discussions. The goal is “how to protect the historic fabric of downtown while encouraging development.” The task is looking at striking a balance between the two important goals of preservation and development considering what is good public policy, best practices to achieve preservation, program capacity, and advocacy mechanisms. The task force has been looking at other cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago, Denver, San Antonio, and Austin to investigate best practices of historic preservation programs and development incentives.
The individual task force members also did individual research and reported back to the task force on items such as economic incentives, how building codes impact historic properties, Tax Increment Financing, easements for historic properties, and more. In addition, Karl Stundins from the City of Dallas Office of Economic Development discussed the Tax Increment Financing program at the city and how it has worked over the years, especially for buildings in downtown.
The meeting last week focused on identifying the issues we have now and how to better address them in order to come up with a set of recommendations for the city. At the next meeting on the 18th the recommendations to be delivered to the city will be discussed by the task force members.