1. CITY OF ALAMO HEIGHTS
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT SERVICES DEPARTMENT
CITY COUNCIL AGENDA MEMORANDUM
TO: Mayor and City Council Members
FROM: Lety Hernandez, Director of Community Development Services
SUBJECT: Case No. 894 F – 859 Estes Ave
Request of La Pila Ventures, owner, for the significance review of the existing main
structure located at 859 Estes Ave in order to demolish 100% of the existing single-family
residence under Demolition Review Ordinance No. 1860 (April 12, 2010).
DATE: May 08, 2023
The property is zoned SF-A and is located on the northern side of Estes Ave between Acacia St
and Morse St.
Staff found no historical or architectural significance to the structure.
A replacement structure is not proposed at this time. Construction of a new single-family
residence would be subject to review by the ARB and approval by City Council.
2. The Architectural Review Board considered the request at their April 18, 2023 meeting. The
motion to declare the existing main structure as significant and recommend approval of a delay
did not receive the four (4) affirmative votes as required per Section 2-48(a) of the City’s Code
of Ordinances. – AYE (2), NAY (2), ABSTAIN (1).
No projected fiscal impact from this project has been calculated.
Attachment A – Web Packet
Attachment B – Response Cards
10. City of Alamo Heights
Architectural Review Board
Dear Board Members:
I’m sorry that I am unable to attend in person tonight’s Architectural Review Board meeting to express my views
regarding the demolition requests, so I feel compelled to write this letter.
As an architect and former builder in the community, I have a unique perspective relating to residential construction and
the current expectations of homeowners. My involvement includes both new construction and remodeling.
I have had clients that have bought a property only to find out that the cost to renovate their homes exceeds the cost of
new construction. The old phrase “they don’t build them like they used to” is absolutely true, thank goodness.
Structures with little to no insulation, galvanized pipes that contain lead, windows that leak air, wiring systems that often
include tube and knob distribution, asbestos flooring and pipe insulation, finished wood flooring with no underlayment,
cedar post foundation systems, retro-fitted AC systems, termite damage and clay pipe sewer lines are just a few of the
construction issues that these homeowners face.
The functional problems are either no garage or single car garages that the modern vehicle won’t fit into, kitchens that
are small and outdated, 1 outdated bathroom for the entire house, lack of utility rooms, and bedrooms with very limited
Age of a structure should not be a pre-requisite for defining it as historically significant. Otherwise, I would consider
myself as historically significant.
The National Register of Historic Places has established four objectives, specific criteria that can qualify a structure to be
designated as historic. From the National Register documentation, structures are historic:
1. That are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history; or
2. That are associated with the lives of persons significant in our past; or
3. That embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, or that represent the
work of a master, or that possess high artistic values, or that represent a significant and distinguishable entity
whose components may lack individual distinction; or
4. That have yielded, or may be likely to yield, information important in prehistory or history.
The structures being considered tonight do not represent the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of
construction or to my knowledge any of the other criteria listed above.
For full disclosure, I have no financial or contractual connections to these properties.
Support - Outside of 200ft radius
11. My name is Sarah Reveley and I have lived at 436 Corona for 20 years. I’m here to
object to the demolition of the house at 859 Estes. The demolition will have a negative
impact on the surrounding neighborhood and the city. This house is the 2nd Centennial home
you will have approved for demolition.
In my opinion it meets the significance requirements in Section Ten, Demolition of our city
codes. It meets 3 of the criteria stated in the ordinance in determining the significance of
(2) Has the structure been listed as having historic significance by any local, regional, state or
historic agency or society?
Yes. Last year Mayor Rosenthal asked me to help with the Centennial and from my
research I discovered we had almost 200 homes that had been here 100 years or more. The
city created yard signs, and every Centennial homeowner was contacted with a personal
letter signed by the mayor. The homes were then given in a presentation at the Argyle and
recorded by the Alamo Heights Historical Association. The AHHA is researching the homes to
document more details. Plans include a permanent plaque. The THC gave me approval to
proceed with the National Register application for neighborhoods last summer. My work
was interrupted by the Alamo Heights Centennial.
(4) Does the structure belong to a distinctive set of buildings, such as a single structure
belonging to a row of similar structures?
Yes. It belongs to the structures known as the Centennial homes.
(5) Is the structure a significant part of the fabric of the community due to its age, unique
architecture, historical significance, or physical placement?
Yes. It is 110 years old, built in 1913.
Based on the ordinance, because it is Significant, the ARB should consider:
(1) The existing condition of the structure, as presented by the applicant and as reviewed by
the director; and
(2) The potential for reuse or rehabilitation of the structure.
HB 2439 passed in 2019, and in the past 5 years, 75 homes have been demolished with your
approval. The law doesn’t apply to Historic Districts, and it is sad that no one on the ARB or
the City Council considered the neighborhoods of our city significant or took the initiative to
create the necessary Historic Districts. Instead, you did nothing, allowing 75 of our homes to
be prey to those in business who just see an opportunity to make money.
Attachment B Opposed - Outside of 200ft radius