San Antonio has a wealth of historic structures and neighborhoods that contribute to the charm of our city. We are fortunate here in King William: It’s such a fascinating place, and it’s the very first neighborhood in Texas recognized by the National Register of Historic Places. 


Because it’s a historic district, there are some guidelines that homeowners need to follow when they make changes to their property. The City of San Antonio has published those guidelines on its website. They’re pretty thorough and they aim to be clear, but they can also be intimidating.


The King William Association’s Architectural Advisory Committee is here to help.


The City of San Antonio and the King William Association (KWA) have common goals to preserve and protect the historic structures and character of our unique neighborhood. The City’s Office of Historic Preservation (OHP) and the KWA’s Architectural Advisory Committee (AAC) are in place to provide owners with resources to understand the approval process and to make appropriate decisions when they plan their projects. 


I know that some homeowners think that the AAC’s mission is to slap their hands whenever they try to do some remodeling or building. That’s absolutely not the role we play (nor is it the role we want to play).

ASK US FOR ADVICE


As I said earlier, the AAC isn’t interested in hand-slapping.


We want to be a resource for our neighbors — and, by the way, not just KWA members, but for all our King William neighbors, whether you’re a member or not.


We meet with architects, builders and new homeowners who come to us to present initial plans, helping them to identify areas that might be an issue with HDRC’s guidelines.  


We want to help our neighbors in advance. We can offer suggestions and advice, based on our knowledge of the guidelines and the OHP. We want to avoid situations where neighbors hire contractors who violate the guidelines and leave the homeowner with an expensive mess to fix.


We understand — it’s a bit intimidating to go on the city’s website initially to research HDRC guidelines. But all the information is there, and, in our experience, the OHP staff is responsive to inquiries. 


If you live in one of our historic neighborhoods in Southtown, you should also have recently received a door hanger from the HDRC listing things you can do or not do to an historic home.  You can also find online pamphlets and other information outlining “Projects That Do Not Require Approval”.


But I can’t say this strongly enough. If you’re contemplating a project, come to the KWA for advice and guidance. We can help you to understand the rules. We can check our office files -- we may have previous permit requests and historic information about your home. We can help you to develop a plan that will get approved.


Here’s how to contact us:


KWA Office

122 Madison

210-227-8786

info@ourkwa



It’s all worth it.


I was in my front yard one day and visitors from out of state walked by and commented on how lucky we were to have these family neighborhoods so close to downtown, because in most large cities the historic homes are offices for law firms or small businesses.


Let’s all work together to keep it that way.

WHAT IS THE ARCHITECTURAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE?


One of the four pillars of the KWA’s mission statement is to preserve the historic and residential nature of the neighborhood.  The Architectural Advisory Committee is composed of KWA members who meet regularly to review plans presented to the San Antonio Historic Design and Review Commission (HDRC) and to make recommendations to the Commission for cases relative to King William.


It’s important to understand that it’s the city’s HDRC that makes the decisions on these things, and they base their decisions on the published guidelines and on historic information.


But our Committee does have a role to play. The City’s HDRC, when it reviews plans, prepares a detailed analysis and explanation of its decisions. Our Committee reviews their analysis and determines whether we agree. And then we let them know our position.


The AAC meets each Monday before the scheduled HDRC meeting and reviews the HDRC agenda to determine if there are cases pertinent to King William.  Cases on the agenda have usually been presented by a homeowner, and the city’s OHP staff reviews the cases and either (1) approves, (2) approves with stipulations to be met, or (3) disapproves.  


The KWA AAC responds with a letter regarding each case to the HDRC stating our agreement, disagreement, or suggestions.


Most of the time, we do agree. But sometimes we may have additional insights that lead us to a different point of view. Our committee members work hard — they’ve studied the guidelines, they study the proposals that go to the city, they study the HDRC’s analysis, and sometimes they even review historic photos and go out in the neighborhood to eyeball the site of the work.


When we disagree, it can go either way. We may suggest that the homeowner’s plan be approved, or we may point out problems that the city missed.


In addition to reviewing HDRC cases, the AAC also receives information from concerned neighbors who see construction or repair work going on near them and do not see required permits displayed.  In that case, those neighbors notify the KWA, and, as a result, the AAC may contact the city to ask if a permit has been issued.   


In those situations, the OHP has been responsive in checking out our queries.  


Over the years, the AAC has developed a good working relationship with the HDRC and OHP staff through the ongoing process of communication.

Shawn Campbell is president of the King William Association

The King William Association’s Architectural Advisory Committee is here to help.

The KWA Architectural Advisory Committee

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