Historical status vote on housing project delayed

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Associated Press

Posted on January 20, 2014 at 2:53 AM

Updated Monday, Jan 20 at 2:53 AM

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Residents of an Austin housing project made possible decades ago by then-U.S. Rep. Lyndon B. Johnson are getting more time to voice their opinions about whether Rosewood Court will become nationally recognized as a historic place.

Members of the Texas Historical Commission's State Board of Review voted Saturday to hold off on deciding about the 75-year-old facility joining the National Registry of Historic Places.

Rosewood Courts, built on the site of Emancipation Park which is the city's Juneteenth parade ground, opened in 1939 as the nation's first federally funded housing project for African-Americans.

Several board members said residents had not had enough of a chance to voice their opinions, according to the Austin American-Statesman (http://bit.ly/1dSy7R4 ).

The commission board's vote is set for May.

The Austin Housing Authority, which manages Rosewood Courts, is doing a million-dollar review that could bring changes or demolition of structures, and asked the board for time to complete it. The authority, which told the review board it wasn't against the historic designation, should be finished with its review in October.

Fred McGhee of Austin, a historical anthropologist who has studied public housing, wrote the nomination to the historic registry. The nomination represents a request from Preserve Rosewood, a nonprofit pushing to preserve the complex.

He told the newspaper that the historic designation would not keep the housing authority, which isn't affiliated with the city, from making changes to the buildings or even tearing them down. It would, however, provide an additional layer of public notification and might slow the process down.

Residents of Rosewood Court complained that the structure is in desperate need of updates. Others emphasized maintaining the facility's historic nature.

"This is not about community engagement," said Ora Houston, who has lived in the neighborhood for nearly seven decades. "This is about making sure that Rosewood, the significance of the property, is there for all people to see that it is a national treasure, a Texas treasure, and it is an Austin treasure."

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Information from: Austin American-Statesman, http://www.statesman.com

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