Construction is two years ahead of schedule on the North Overton project. McDougal Companies say they are very optimistic about the possibility of a prestigious hotel chain coming to Overton park and bringing with it several other businesses. So far, just short of 900 properties have been acquired to make way for all the new construction. It's that acquisition that has caused a few hiccups in an otherwise smooth running project.
As the Overton area undergoes its new look some are fighting to preserve the old. Among some of the houses that were demolished in North Overton were at least two the historical society considered local treasures. The battle to preserve them may have been lost, but they did come away with a victory. Amid all the noise of busy construction sits a house in transit. The Queen Anne Victorian sat on 10th street for close to 100 years, right smack dab in the way of Overton's new development.
Sammy Jones, President of the Lubbock Historical Society says "Still some is original work in it and it was built by W.D. Benson, a long time attorney here in Lubbock years ago." Jones and other members fought to have the Benson house designated as a historical landmark and succeeded. The house is now being moved to a new location where it will be part of the Lubbock Interfaith Hospitality Network.
While the Benson house is safe, others are doomed. Jones says, "It's just history. We want kids to see that and think 'Wow! Look what we came from."
Mike McDougal, with McDougal Companies says about one house, "This particular house, in our opinion, just happened to be old and it wasn't necessarily historic." McDougal says his development company has been very sensitive to the need of preserving the Overton area's history and they've helped move or preserve many houses.
However, he approves of a recent vote by city council to change the zoning ordinance and prevent people from making historical designations without the owner's approval. "We've just said at a local level, if you're gonna do that, you have to have the owner's consent. I think that's the property owner's right." Jones says, "There has to be somebody with a right to step in and say this has historical background. Don't tear it down. Don't just bulldoze it down. Think about who used to live here, what used to be here."
The old zoning ordinance allowed anyone to declare a historical marker, not just the property owner. The Historical Society says they do plan to write to their city council members to keep it that way.