Dept. of Partially Solved Mysteries

The Barbara Jordan Recovery Center Is Now a Historical Landmark

An “adaptive mixed-use renovation project” is coming to the Fifth Ward’s old hospital.

By Adam Doster December 20, 2016

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There are new plans in place for the vacant hospital on Lyons Avenue that once housed St. Elizabeth's.

Earlier this summer, we set about unraveling the mystery that was the Barbara Jordan Recovery Center, the gorgeous yet dilapidated medical facility on Lyons Avenue in the Fifth Ward that was once home to St. Elizabeth’s, one of the oldest African-American hospitals in the country.

The 70-year-old building, vacant in all its Neo-Gothic limestone splendor, was purchased, sold and flipped several times over the past decade, without anyone offering so much as a peep about their plans for the historic site. Finally, the Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation confirmed this spring that they’d bought the building, which they planned to renovate and integrate “as part of planned development for the Lyons corridor.”

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Now, at the behest of city council member Jerry Davis, the city council looks poised to establish the 120,000-square-foot complex as a city historic landmark. Such a designation could limit its owners’ tax liability and reduce additional building permit fees. (A full list of landmark properties is available here.) During the planning stages, the Houston Archaeological and Historical Commission had both unanimously recommended approval. And the group’s application (PDF) holds additional clues about how they intend to use the property going forward:

The Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation is currently in the beginning phases of an Adaptive Reuse Preliminary Feasibility Analysis. The group envisions an adaptive mixed-use renovation project which would include commercial, public, and residential uses. Residential units would also be economically integrated to further both affordable and market rate housing demands. Much of the building’s original construction will be preserved, with the potential for non-historic additions to be removed or substantially altered. Fifth Ward CRC intends to fully engage the community in its preservation and renovation efforts.

Another twist! We’ll update this post with any additional developments, and will keep our eyes peeled as the project moves forward.

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