Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Mission of the Bouldin Creek Historic District?
To obtain recognition of the architectural and historical significance of the Bouldin Creek neighborhood and to preserve our rich heritage by creating a City of Austin Local Historic District(s).

The goal of this effort is not to dictate paint colors or exclude additions, renovations or new construction, but rather to raise greater public awareness of the special character of Austin by creating a Local Historic District which protects and respects our historic resources.

What is a Local Historic District?
A historic district is a geographically or thematically defined area. It is easiest to imagine geographic districts because their borders are contiguous, though not all the buildings will be contributing. A thematically defined area might be "Depression Era Stone Houses" that are not within contiguous borders.

Unlike a Historic Landmark, which is a building or site of great historical significance, a Local Historic District (LHD) is a common grouping or concentration of significant buildings, structures and objects (on the street) at least 50 years old, united by their history and/or architecture.

Local historic districts protect contributing buildings from demolition, as well as enhance and preserve areas of the city with historical and architectural significance.

What is a Contributing Property?
A Contributing structure is at least 50 years old, was built during the period of significance of the district, and retains enough integrity of materials and design to portray its historic appearance, which contributes to the district as a whole.

A Non-Contributing structure is less than 50 years old or has had architectural modifications to the extent that it has lost its historic appearance from the streetscape view.

Within a district, 51 percent of the structures must be contributing.

What are the boundaries of the Historic District?
Whereas the Bouldin Creek neighborhood's boundaries are Town Lake to Oltorf, and from South Congress Avenue to the Union Pacific railroad tracks, and probably well over 51 pecent of its structures are contributing, it may be more practical to define several smaller districts within the neighborhood.

How do we complete the LHD Nomination form?

>1. Collect maps from the original subdivision, tax maps and Sanborn maps to estimate potential district boundaries.

2. Survey and inventory the potential district. This involves, for each building, oblique-angle photographs, address and map key number, owner and tax parcel number, date of construction, significant persons associated with the building, architectural description, description of modifications, evaluation of whether it is contributing or not and why, description of set-backs, landscape features and auxiliary buildings. This level of research is required on 25 percent of contributing buildings. Please note that the TCAD web site is only 90 percent accurate. Our research will be focused around Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps and Austin City Directories found at the Austin History Center.
We will then fill in qualitative information, such as number of contributing houses with board and batten siding, for example, fences, multi-family dwellings, garage apartments, certain architectural features, etc.

For both contributing and non-contributing buildings, we will provide a description of the criteria used for determining which are contributing and which are not, as well as the architectural styles within the district and the period of significance. For individual building histories, we will show the occupancy history of each building by who lived or worked there. This information will be found in city directories, census records, obituaries and the Austin History Center biographical files.

>We will then give a narrative history of the district and establish the significance of the district, which includes identifying key sites and buildings in the development of the district and the city. We will discuss the social, economic and cultural history of the residents of the district.

The most important element of the project is that we must obtain support from the owners of 60 percent of the land within the district.

The Process of the Application will go through these departments, in order:

  • 1. Historic Landmark Commission

  • 2. Planning Commission

  • 3. City Council

Upon approval by Council, the district receives official "HD" zoning designation.

What are the benefits to me of designation?
Local Historic Districts (LHDs) provide protection by creating high criteria for teardown or relocation of important buildings in the neighborhood. They also provide standards for new construction, giving property owners and builders direction for conforming to the standards created by the residents of the neighborhood, along with the guidance of an architectural historian and the City of Austin. This gives property owners assurance the neighborhood they are investing in maintains its character, despite market trends.

A local historic district provides property tax incentives for rehabilitation of historic buildings. As a reward to contributing buildings' owners who invest X amount of dollars on rehab with a portion spent on the outside, streetscape view, the city will freeze property taxes for seven years at the pre-rehab price. Owners of non-contributing properties who want to restore their property to contributing status, would also be offered this incentive, according to the City of Austin Preservation Officer Steve Sadowsky.

What are design standards and how are they applied?
We have been working with the Heritage Society of Austin and other historic neighborhoods to see what they know about the process. The standards are specific to every neighborhood and will be based on what is here already, focusing on the streetscape view. Additions are permitted. Paint colors and interior finishes are not an issue.