Book to guide historic exterior upgrades

       Westsiders got a brief primer on the area's architectural history - and how they can preserve it for the future - at the first of three meetings on the “Historic Westside Design Guidelines” document Jan. 27 at the Westside Community Center.

Consulting architect Steve Obering (far right), the book's principal author, presents a PowerPoint summary Jan. 27 in a Westside Community conference room. Seated across the table are Bob and Rose Kliewer, who were among several Organization of Westside Neighbors volunteers who helped with the project.
Westside Pioneer photo

The cover of the "Historic Westside Design Guidelines" book.
Westside Pioneer photo

       The next two will also be at the center, 1628 W. Bijou St. They will be Monday, Feb. 1, from noon to 1 p.m.; and Tuesday, Feb. 9, from 6:15 to 7:15 p.m.
       A total of 300 copies of the book have been printed and are being given to meeting atteendees. The book was authored by contracted architect Steve Obering with city staff and the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN).
       Using PowerPoint slides to help meeting attendees follow along, Obering skimmed through the illustrated 127-page document, pointing out how places could be useful when people go to fix up their older homes. He conceded that for some people a pure historical renovation could prove too expensive. “The Guidelines encourage people that if they can't afford to use the exact materials, they can try to replicate the look,” he said.
       The book identifies the predominant styles and forms on the Westside through its history, includes numerous photographic examples of good and bad renovations and identifies books, magazines and websites where more information can be found.
       The intent of the Guidelines is to help people understand how to retain the historic feel of their Westside houses. In the case of new construction, the buildings don't have to be Victorians, per se, but they “should reflect the rhythm and style of the neighborhood where they're built,” Obering said.
       The guidelines are part of an overarching goal by OWN for an historic overlay zone that would reward Westside historic-façade remodelers with tax credits, but the city's budget cutbacks appear to have put that effort on ice for now.
       Obering was congratulated afterward by Kristine Van Wert, an OWN board member who helped originate the overlay idea and has helped move it forward for the past seven years. “You went way past anyone's expectations,” she told him.
       In addition to the book itself, there is a 34-page insert, prepared by city-trained OWN volunteers last year, ranking the nearly 2,000 homes that are deemed to “contribute” historically within the geographical area of the Westside that was used for the study (bounded by Highway 24, 31st Street, Uintah Street and I-25). For each home on the list, there is an address, year built, contribution score (1 or 2, with 1 being better), and a listing of its architectural style and (where known) its form.
       Obering's work was funded by grants in 2007 from the city and the State Historical Fund.

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