Juniper-Olive Historic District Overview
The Juniper-Olive Historic District is an 18 unit, affordable housing development on two city blocks in Central East Austin. The project restores ten historic homes and adds eight new 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, important cultural institutions such as the French Legation, the Texas State Cemetery and Huston-Tillotson University (HTU) and to mixed income, culturally diverse neighborhoods. 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.
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. Proximity to downtown and the Capitol make the area a prime target for redevelopment and gentrification. Adjacent to ARA’s 54,000 sf mixed-use commercial development, Eleven East, the Juniper-Olive Historic District is a key project that will add to the overall revitalization and stability of the area while maintaining a core of affordability. However, drainage, hazardous materials, encroachments, visibility and marketability have all presented hurdles to the project.
Clearing the Hurdles
The Juniper-Olive Historic District project re-configures two city blocks to make the area more livable by 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 small houses.
ARA in partnership with Texas In-Town Homes hopes to address two issues with Legacy Estates, its first market rate residential development. First, it plans to construct new residences as a means of adding new market rate home ownership units to the area. In addition it seeks to create a buffer between the existing neighborhood, the parking area, and Eleven East, the mixed-use development on E. 11th Street.
Secondly, ARA’s residential plan will provide quality housing for people of all income levels. Although the location of the residences enables ARA to charge top dollar, we are committed to providing a percentage of the housing at affordable rates, thus preserving the balance that historically prevailed in the neighb