Friday, August 12, 2005

Demolition By Neglect

Defined as the destruction of a building through abandonment or lack of maintenance.

Seen one lately? You will if you live in Brownsville. There are several (or many) historical buidings and homes that are on the verge of extinction. Examples: The Hotel El Jardin, The Kraigher House, The Yturria Building, The Puegnat Building, and many more.

The city is going to consider soon on implementing an ordinance that deals with demolition by neglect. The El Jadin is a prime example of this issue. Although I have talked about the El Jardin in this blog, I'm concentrating on the ordinance more than on the building. Pieces of the hotel have been falling for some time now but rarely does it get any coverage. The only time that I can remeber that I saw it in the Brownsville Herald was when a large piece of molding from the roof came crashing down on the building next to it. But nothing more was mentioned thereafter.

Basically, if an owner can not afford to fix the building or can't sell it, the other option for the owner is to neglect the building until it's unsafe or structurally unsound and be forced to tear it down. The owner may then be able to rebuild something else on this property. That's what appears to be happening with the hotel, but I have no proof or it. But it would not be too far from reallity since the hotel is being neglected and it's slowly coming apart. There are other historical buildings that are in lack of maintaince but the hotel is in more emminent danger.

The ordinance is a good start but here's what I want to know about the ordinance:

1) Will it be enforced?

2) What will the ordinance entail?

3) What would be the consequences/fines if the owner(s) disregard the ordinance?

4) Would the fines and/or consequences be heavy or just a slap on the wrist?

5) Will the ordinance be enforced equally (meaning that there are no loop holes or compadrismo going on)?

6) If the owner(s) still disregard the ordinance, will the city be able to take action of some sort?

I'm sure that there's more questions but these are the basic ones. If the ordinance will not be enforced, then what's the point of having one? Just the same, if the fines are not heavy enough or the city simply looks the other way, again, what's the point? If the city is serious about this ordinance, then I want to see real progress being made for the downtown and making sure that owner(s) do follow the ordinance. Period.

As soon as I find out more about this new ordinance, I will write it here as an update and see if all the questions above will be answered in a positive way.

Until then, downtown will reamain where it's at, decaying and going into oblivion.


Blogger Mayra said...

Great post Tony.
I think it is important that people become informed of four things:

1) The current state of Downtown Brownsville
2) The current activity behind the ordinance and what the objectives are
3) What the current contributions are to the state of neglect of downtown Brownsville (mostly it is a lack of investment and interest by the community at large...not just owners and politicians) and what can be done
4) The potential a thriving downtown and cultural arts district can offer the economy of Brownsville
If we get these ideas and activism rolling in the community, then just maybe we can preserve the heritage of our city and celebrate it for decades to come.

One book that I am reading on the terms of developing thriving creative communities with great economies is The Rise of the Creative Class by Richard Florida. Give it a go. I really think Brownsville has the potential to become one of the best cities in the state! It's just matter of harnerssing and building from the resources we already have and by raising the positive morale of our community.

But first what needs to be organized is an awareness campaign. This ordinance deal is the perfect stepping stone for an awareness campaign!

8:43 PM  
Blogger TonyL said...

Thanks for the comment, Mayra. Lets just hope that this ordinance does help our downtown.

10:35 AM  
Blogger Brownsville Scenes said...

i'm sorry. i'm new to your blog and to your cause, but i couldn’t resist a comment on this entry. i hate to think of the day that the el jardin hotel (amongst other historic buildings) fall into much a state of disrepair that it would be impossible to restore. the city has to make the owners of these building accountable for their maintenance and repair. i say fine them to death until they have to surrender the buildings to the county or city. a couple of years back i had the opportunity to see the building’s first floor from the inside and the state of disrepair is great, i am afraid that it might be too late for this building. - steven

7:18 PM  
Blogger TonyL said...

Steven, your my kind of people! I feel the same way, hence this blog.

Like I told Mayra, I belong to an organization called Preservation Brownsville, PB for short, and currently, I'm the President. I could use people like you in this organization. If you really want to make a difference, join us. I'm going to hold a board members meeting next month but I hope to have the general meeting in Oct. I'm working on the PowerPoint Presentaion for the meeting. The meeting is free and no fee to join. I really want to keep it this way. We need new blod here cuz I'm the youngest there! I'm 31 and I'm about 10 years younger to the next guy!!

Anyways, if you're interested, let me know. Also, have you been to my website? It called A Pictorial History of Brownsville, Tx: Growth & Development at Check it out and let me know what you think of it.



6:36 AM  
Blogger Mayra said...

Yay! Activism is so exciting! The ball just got pushed a little further. I think there are more young people like us in town, wanting to make a difference to save our community's history. They are all just well hidden or need a swift kick in the bum. haha.

Tony, you should make a presentation to the South Texas Young Professionals Brownsville chapter and invite them to the October meeting! I joined sometime back but didn't get to attend a meeting because I then briefly moved to McAllen for work. (In short, I am glad to be back home!). I hear they are a pretty active group. You can check out their site at

11:10 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home