Planning and Zoning Commission recommends church as historic landmark, grants conditional-use permits


Star File photo.

Christopher Green

The Planning and Zoning Commission granted conditional-use permits to two restaurants Oct. 9 and voted unanimously to recommend the Old First Baptist Church on Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive to be a local historic landmark.

The motion came to the Planning and Zoning Commission after the Texas Historic Preservation Commission recommended approval of designating the church as a local historic landmark. Next, the church will undergo approval from City Council. If approved, it will be officially designated as a local historic landmark.

The Old First Baptist Church is located in the Dunbar Historic District, a historically African-American neighborhood. In 1873, the church was set ablaze by Ku Klux Klan members. Thirty years later, it was rebuilt on Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive. In 1986, the church was boarded up and hasn’t been open to the public since. A revived resident-led movement to restore the church has been underway since early 2018. Currently, the church is entered in a public-voting based competition for a $150,000 grant to go toward the restoration. The top 10 projects of the 20 entered will receive the grant. Currently, the church is ranked eighth.

The commission also unanimously granted Ivar’s River Pub and Cheer and Chow conditional use permits, allows the sale of mixed beverages for on-premise consumption and will last for three years. Cheer and Chow was also granted permission to hold live music events but they must be held indoors.

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