The main goal of the ARA is to enhance the quality and diversity of community life in East Austin, while revitalizing the neighborhood and balancing historic preservation with urban design.
The ARA views historic preservation as an integral part of community revitalization. We partner with both individuals and organizations as we work to maintain the importance of history and culture throughout the East side.
Below are a few of our historic preservation and revitalization efforts.
Haehnel Building Restoration
The Haehnel Building, located at 1101 E. 11th Street and also known as Shorty’s, is a historically significant structure on the National Register, built circa 1880. ARA is the building’s owner and in 2001 completed renovations of the building for use as 4,200 square feet of office space. It is extremely important to ARA and to the community that the building be rehabilitated in a manner that was consistent with its historical designation.In 1999, ARA executed a contract with Carter Design Associates, a local architectural firm with substantial experience in the preservation of historic structures, to develop a design for the rehabilitation of the Haehnel Building. In March 2000, the City of Austin awarded the ARA with a preservation grant to help restore the building. The Austin Convention and Visitor’s Bureau also contributed to the preservation effort by awarding ARA their Heritage Grant. Chase Bank provided a loan for the other half of the financing.
In the East 11th Street Commercial Corridor it is ARA’s goal to encourage private investment by initially taking on some of the financial burdens and risk associated with development in our target area. We believe that the rehabilitation of the Haehnel Building has not only brought back to life a gathering place of historic and cultural significance, but will also show that historically responsible investment in the redevelopment area is both possible and profitable.
Arnold Bakery Renovation
Built circa 1890, the Arnold Bakery located at 1010 E. 11th Street is an 1,800 square foot solid brick structure that has stood the test of time first as a bakery, later as a dinette and most recently an artist’s live/work studio. ARA bought the bakery in 2000 so that it could be renovated in a manner that would blend with the mixed-use development ARA has planned for the block.Shoehorn Design, a local business that is located just blocks from the site, expressed an interest in renovating the building for use as its new design studio. ARA sold the building to Shoehorn at below market value on the condition that the building be rehabilitated within 12 months in a manner consistent with the larger mixed-use development the ARA is constructing around it. In fact the owners commenced construction on their rehabilitation and addition project in May 2002 and completed it in early 2003.
Travis Country Negro Agricultural Extension Office Renovation
(aka Herman Schieffer House and/or the East Room)
Eligible for the National Register, the structure was built around 1903 as the home of the Schieffer family, which operated a neighborhood grocery and meat market through the 1940s. The house served as the office of the Travis County Negro Agricultural Extension Agency (TCNAEA) in the 1950’s and 1960’s. It was a significant statewide agency, the first of its kind in Travis County, and its presence in East Austin was important to the African American community. As the fortunes of the community declined so did the TCNAEA. In its last incarnation the building became the East Room, an “after hours” club that was a magnet for a variety of criminal activities. ARA, with the support of the surrounding neighborhoods, purchased the property in 1998 and shut the club down. Responses by the police to calls in the area subsequently dropped dramatically. This, in combination with the efforts of the Ebenezer Baptist Church and its economic development corporation, the Austin Police Department and the Anderson Community Development Corporation, helped greatly reduce crime in the area (from over 400 police calls in 1997-1998 to 12 calls in 1999-2000).
ARA is in the process of rehabilitating the 1,400 square foot building, which is eligible for historic designation by the City of Austin and the National Register of Historic Places for use as executive-suite style office space. Plans include moving it approximately 40 feet to the north in order to make room for a mixed-use building to be built on the same block, adding a two-story addition roughly 3,600 square feet, and turning it into office space.
The rehabilitation of the TCNAEA and installation of an historic marker is vital to the preservation of the flavor and the culture of this community and has the potential to, in tandem with the many other historic landmarks and sites in the area attract more heritage tourism to Central East Austin. These tourists would be likely to spend money at restaurants on East 11th Street, see blues and other musical acts at the Victory Grill (a historic landmark), and generally bolster the area’s economy.
Juniper-Olive Historic District
The Juniper-Olive Historic District is an 18 unit, affordable housing development on two city blocks in Central East Austin. Because of its cultural history, importance to the African-American Community, and unique architectural features, two blocks between Juniper and Olive streets have been registered as an historic district by the Texas Historical Commission. The project was intended to restore ten historic homes and add eight new construction houses on scattered lots that are designed to fit in with the neighborhood.Located just one mile from Downtown Austin with views of the State Capitol, Juniper and Olive Streets are situated in the heart of an historic neighborhood that housed one of Austin’s first African-American communities, as well as numerous immigrants from all over the world. For the better part of the 20th century, the area was home to thriving businesses- many of which were owned by African Americans. Also present in the community are several important cultural institutions such as the French Legation; the Texas State Cemetery and Huston-Tillotson University (HTU). Like many inner-city neighborhoods, the area fell victim to decades of disinvestment as people and
businesses moved away from the city center in the 1970s and 80s.The housing project included improving drainage, updating 70-year old infrastructure, improving and adding accessible sidewalks, and increasing marketability by adding an alley that provides off-street parking and handicap-accessible entries in some units. Asbestos and lead-based paint have been removed from the historic buildings and the entire area has been re-subdivided to eliminate property line encroachments and setback issues. All of the historic homes were brought up to current building code and improved by the addition of modern bathrooms, HVAC, kitchens and laundry facilities while remaining respectful of the historic scale and character of the houses.All homes were made available to families at or below 80% of the Area Median Income. ARA completed 11 of the 18 homes in the original project. The remaining homes are being finished by the City of Austin. Juniper-Olive Historic District is a key project that has added to the overall revitalization and stability of the area while maintaining a core of affordability.