Fighting For The Freeland Bungalows

Tucked deep into a corner of the Heights southwest of Fitzgerald's is Freeland, a historic (by Houston standards, of course) neighborhood of about three one-story dozen bungalows.

And, possibly, one giant modern apartment building.

Freeland residents are hanging posters, firing e-mails and pressuring officials to try to stop a developer from demolishing one of the bungalows and putting up a decidedly un-bungalow-ish building. Two four-story, 50-foot-high structures will dwarf the neighborhood, residents say.

"The residents of Freeland met the applicant at the HAHC [Houston Archeological and Historic Commission] meeting and have expressed their disappointment about his plans to demolish the home," Denise Batchelor tells Hair Balls. "This has fallen upon deaf ears, and the applicant has absolutely no desire to preserve the bungalow. He has made no effort to meet with members of the HAHC to submit any new plans for the property in an effort to make any new construction compatible with the historic district."

We couldn't reach the applicant, Jack Preston Wood, but his plans are on file in the city. Initially the demolition was scheduled for the end of March but has not been put off until the end of May.

Dennis Devlin, another resident, wrote Wood with some of the emotion that's been stirred up:

Further, your house - with the design you have proposed - will stand out like a sore thumb. It won't come even close to fitting in. This is not a neighborhood that will be turned into new homes - it's historic, and will remain that way...We are all very serious about this, and will make every legal effort to thwart, block, delay, and frustrate the demolition of the existing structure, and the construction of another structure on that property.

I'm quite sure that there are other equally good if not better lots on which you could build a very nice large house, and where such a house would not be an eyesore. And I'm equally certain that it would be more comfortable for you and your family to live in a neighborhood where your neighbors aren't as upset with your construction plans as we are in the Freeland Historic District.

("Maybe calling his design a 'McMansion' was a bit 'mean-spirited,'" he admits.)

So things are getting tense in Freeland.

Can't everyone just go to Jimmie's Ice House and talk it out?

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