City Staff Recommends Historic Zoning for Westgate Towers

According to a City of Austin Zoning Change Review Sheet dated September 24, 2012, City Staff has recommended that the zoning change (from CBD to CBD-H) recently requested by the Westgate Condominium Association for the Westgate Tower be granted.

The Westgate Tower is the closest residential tower to the Texas State Capitol, and many consider it the only pure mid-century modern building in downtown Austin.

City Staff summarizes the qualifications of the Westgate that merit the change:

“The Westgate Tower is an excellent example of the New Formalism approach to modern architecture, is the only building in Austin designed by internationally-known architect Edward Durell Stone, and has served as a model for continued mixed-use growth in the city, combining residential, commercial, and social uses in the same building.”

westgate tower

The review sheet goes over, in detail, the historical significance of the Westgate Tower. Some of interesting tid-bits:

  • The Westgate was named for its location just West of the State Capitol grounds
  • Westgate Tower opened its doors in 1966
  • Westgate Tower’s contemporaries are the Cambridge Tower and Penthouse Apartments, both also built in the 1960’s
  • Westgate Tower was the first high-rise building that was significantly taller than anything else in Austin, except the Capitol Dome
  • The Westgate Tower was the 2nd home of the Headliners Club (after the Driskill)

Landmarking a building has become controversial in Austin as some tax payers believe the system is being exploited. The issue has even made it into Austin Monthly founder Mike Levy’s infamous blind-copy email campaigns.

From local developer Rick Hardin (via Mike Levy): “So what is the historic “protection” for? Moreover what is “historic’ about this building? If the answer is some notable folks lived or worked there, most all older buildings downtown qualify. If Austin is to be even handed, take ALL buildings over 50 years old and give them the same tax break. “Landmark” designation is arbitrary, all older properties face the same maintenance challenges and expenses; why should just some get a tax break?”

See current listings at the Westgate Tower.