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Metro Council Committee to Consider Landmarks Proposal

Opponents of a proposal to change Louisville’s landmarks ordinance are urging members of a Metro Council committee to reject the measure tomorrow.

Introduced by Councilman David Yates, the proposal would require that a majority of the signatures needed to nominate a property for landmark status come from people who live within a one-mile radius of the site.

It would also give the full council final say over landmarks decisions. Yates says the process needs more council oversight. He points to properties like the Colonial Gardens building in south Louisville, a local landmark that has sat vacant for years.

But opponents of the Yates proposal. like Cherise Williams, say it would deprive many citizens of a voice in the process.

“I do not just only care about where I live. I care about the community as a whole and I’d like to have input on what goes on in my whole city,” she said.

Williams was among about 20 opponents of the proposal who took part in a downtown press conference today.

Martina Kunnecke, president of the group Neighborhood Planning and Preservation, is also opposed to an alternative proposed by Councilman Tom Owen that would expand the petition radius.

“We see no need to entertain compromises to change something that essentially is not broken, so, no, there’s not support here for that,” Kunnecke said.

The measure will be considered by the Metro Council’s Planning and Zoning Committee at 1:30pm Tuesday.

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Large Turnout for Public Hearing on Louisville’s Landmarks Ordinance

Louisville’s Metro Council will consider public comments received Tuesday from supporters and opponents who staked their positions during a committee hearing on proposed changes to the city’s landmarks ordinance.

The proposal would give the council more control over what becomes a historic landmark and would require at least 51 percent of residents who sign a petition to request a hearing live within a one mile radius of a potential landmark site.

Nearly 20 individuals spoke to the Planning and Zoning, Land Design and Development committee during a public comment period. Many were residents concerned that changing the current landmarks ordinance would result in losing historic structures or districts throughout the county.

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Preserving Louisville’s Shotgun Houses

It’s a style of house that symbolizes many of Louisville’s older neighborhoods…the shotgun.

There are many variations, but shotgun houses typically have a long, rectangular floor plan: one room wide, three to five rooms in a row with doorways often on the same side of the house.

One common belief is that the name shotgun house refers to the ability to fire a shotgun cleanly from the front through the back door.

The shotgun style likely made its way into the U.S. from the West Indies and became popular in the South during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, offering affordable housing in working class areas.

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Preservation Group Makes Last Stand at The Old Elmo’s Bar Building

A small group of preservationists made a last stand today outside of the old Elmo’s Bar building on Main Street.  The building is scheduled to be torn down and as WFPL’s Dalton Main reports, owner and developer Todd Blue officially has permission to demolish it as of Thursday.

The 30-day waiting period mandated for the demolition of historical buildings has ended and members of the organization Neighborhood Planning and Preservation, Inc made a last-minute stand.

Four people held brightly colored signs that read “this building matters”.  They joked about chaining themselves to the structure, but seemed resigned to the fact that the demolition is a foregone conclusion.

As Cherise Williams puts it, the group is frustrated with what they called a lack of transparency in the city’s dealings with Blue.

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Local News Next Louisville Politics

Hearing on Attempt to Delay Whiskey Row Destruction is This Week

A federal judge will hear arguments this week over whether to further delay the demolition of the Whiskey Row buildings in downtown Louisville.

Through an agreement between Mayor Greg Fischer and developer Todd Blue, the strip of buildings could’ve been destroyed as early as today. Preservationists fought the deal and last week they filed for a 60-day extension. A judge postponed the demolition until this Wednesday, when there will be a hearing on the extension.

But preservation attorney Steve Porter says the extension isn’t that important anymore. When the judge scheduled this week’s hearing, he also said Porter will be given advance notice of any demolition orders and he’ll have the chance to appeal the orders locally, not through federal court.

“He wasn’t going to hear an appeal of the demolition orders. He absolutely says that’s not in his jurisdiction,” says Porter.

Further, the judge granted preservationists access to a report on how dilapidated the buildings are.

“The 60 days became not very important once we got our advance notice and once we got a copy of that report and everything else,” says Porter.

A spokesperson for the mayor says the city has no problem with the advance notice order. Further, the city is working with interested buyers who may attempt to buy the buildings from Blue and keep them standing.

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Local News Next Louisville

Preservationists Cheer Delay of Whiskey Row Demolition

Preservationists have won a small victory in the fight to save the Whiskey Row buildings in downtown Louisville.

Under an agreement between the buildings’ owner, Todd Blue, and Metro Government, the strip could’ve been razed as early as Monday. But that’s been blocked so a judge can hear arguments on Wednesday over whether to push the demolition back another two months.

Preservationist attorney Steve Porter says he’d like that to happen, but when the judge set the hearing date, he also gave the preservationists the ability to keep fighting the demolition, even if the delay is denied.

“We will get at least seven days advanced notice before a demolition order is issued and we would have at least seven days after the issuance of the order before anything would actually happen,” he says.

The advance notice would give Porter the ability to appeal the demolition order.

“That would be first to the Board of Code Enforcement, who is the appeal board for emergency demolition orders and then if we don’t like what they say, or if they refuse to hear us or something, then we can go to Jefferson Circuit Court,” he says.

Porter says long enough delays could give an outside party enough time to purchase the strip from Blue. The city is currently seeking investors who will buy the buildings and save them. Mayor’s spokesperson Chris Poynter says there are several interested parties.

“As always, we’ve been going on two routes: one route with Todd Blue for the demolition of the buildings and the other route with the potential buyer. Unfortunately, at this point, we haven’t made any movement toward a resolution,” he says.

Poynter adds that the mayor’s office has no objections to the advance notice. Blue did not return a request for comment.

Preservationists will also be issued a copy of a report that examines whether the buildings are structurally sound.

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Preservationists Seek Change in Whiskey Row Case

A group of preservationists and a local property owner are hoping to intervene in the federal court case concerning the Whiskey Row buildings at First and Main streets.

The faction filed paperwork Friday asking Judge John Heyburn II to let them onto the case, which is now between Metro Government and the buildings’ owner Todd Blue Todd Blue. Heyburn has approved an agreement that ends the case. It allows Blue to destroy the buildings and provides help from the city preserving or recreating the facades.

Preservationists have sought a guarantee that the buildings or the facades will be saved. Attorney Steve Porter says Friday’s filing only seeks to overturn the agreement, and not force preservation.

“What we’re trying to do is say that the buildings need to be put in front of the Landmarks Commission and let the Landmarks Commission, with a proposal from somebody—whether that’s the current owner or a new owner—and see what that proposal is, and then make a decision on it,” he says.

The federal court ruling trumps the local Landmarks Commission. Porter told WFPL earlier this week that he thinks Heyburn will heed their request. The city is also seeking buyers for the property who would keep five of the seven building standing.

Additional reporting by Dalton Main

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Local News Politics

Court Challenge to Whiskey Row Agreement Could Come This Week

Iron Quarter (photo by Sheila Ash)Preservationists may soon file paperwork asking a federal judge to reconsider his decision on the Whiskey Row buildings at First and Main Streets.

Judge John Heyburn II recently approved an agreement between Metro Government and developer Todd Blue. It allows Blue to destroy the buildings in early May to make room for a parking lot and later a development.

Preservation attorney Steve Porter says he plans to ask Heyburn to reconsider his approval of the agreement and make it open for renegotiation.

“At least that all the parties involved, including the judge, would have a hearing to make determinations along those lines, as opposed to just the owner of the buildings having the absolute final say, which is the case now,” he says.

Porter says he’d like to make sure the buildings, or at least their facades, are saved. Blue has said if anyone thinks they can preserve the buildings and develop the property, they can purchase the land from him. The city and the Downtown Development Corporation are seeking buyers who will save five of the seven buildings.

The city’s agreement with Blue gave Metro Government 90 days to figure out the best way to preserve or recreate the facades, though Blue is not bound to save them. The city struck the deal because of concerns that Heyburn would rule in Blue’s favor and grant him permission to destroy the buildings with no delay or caveats.

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Local News Next Louisville Politics

DDC Head Quiet on Details, but Says Buyers Are Interested in Whiskey Row

The head of the Louisville Downtown Development Corporation says he’s heard some interest from potential buyers of the Whiskey Row buildings at First and Main Streets.

The city has struck a deal with a buildings’ owner—Todd Blue—that allows him to demolish the strip in two months to make room for a parking lot, then a new development. Preservationists have criticized the deal, and the development corporation is seeking buyers who will purchase five of the seven buildings and renovate them.

Executive director Alan Delisle says he can’t discuss details, but there have been developments since sales efforts began last week.

“We are hearing from people that are interested and we’re providing information and working with community leaders to the greatest extent possible,” he says.

Blue would have final approval over any sale. He has repeatedly said that if anyone wants to save the structures, purchasing them from him is the best option. He’s asking $1.5 million per building, which is more than he paid for them. Delisle says he won’t say what the potential buyers are willing to pay.

“I have no comment on any asking price or what everybody may think they’re worth or not worth. We’ll just see if we can get to that stage that we can have a good, positive discussion amongst all the parties,” he says.

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Local News Next Louisville Politics

Buyer Sought For Whiskey Row Buildings

With just over two months left before developer Todd Blue can legally destroy the strip of buildings at First and Main streets (known as Whiskey Row), Louisville Metro Government is seeking a buyer for the structures. (For more on Whiskey Row, click here)

Blue owns the strip, but has said he is willing to sell them to someone who wants to save either the facades or the entire buildings, as many preservationists have called for Blue to do.

The Courier-Journal reports that the city is now seeking buyers who are willing to take five of the seven buildings off Blue’s hands.

Alan Delisle, the corporation’s executive director, and Chris Poynter, Fischer’s spokesman, both said Thursday that the other two Iron Quarter buildings at 105 and 107 W. Main, are probably too dilapidated to attract a buyer and are not part of the sales effort. But they say the five structures that may be sold are worth salvaging in their entirety.

“If they are not sold within 90 days, he (Blue) can tear them down,” Poynter said. But he said “there are prospects” for acquiring the five buildings, although he declined to elaborate.

Delisle also wouldn’t identify prospective purchasers and called it “a big challenge” to find a buyer, “but we are making the strongest possible effort to get this done.”