Two groups of Louisville preservationists say they are not happy with Mayor Greg Fischer and developer Todd Blue’s settlement over the Iron Quarter project.
Blue has agreed to drop a lawsuit against the city in exchange for permission to raze a strip of buildings at First and Main streets. The city will also help him preserve or recreate the buildings’ facades for a new development.
Preservationist attorney Steve Porter with OPEN Louisville says he would like the buildings to be preserved in their entirety. Failing that, he supports keeping the facades. He takes issue with the possibility they could be destroyed, but replicated on new buildings.
“Well that’s not preservation at all. You don’t tear down something that’s 170 years old and…quote recreate it,” he says.
The group Preservation Louisville is also planning action. It’s unclear what that action will be, though, since the city’s agreement has not been made public. Until it is, it’s also unknown whether Blue will be able to bypass the Metro Landmarks Commission to raze the buildings. That would make any attempts by Preservation Louisville to block the deal more difficult. Porter says if the judge bypasses the commission, it will set a dangerous precedent.
“Anybody who has a landmark property who disagrees with the landmarks commission just files the lawsuit and makes a settlement behind the scenes with the mayor’s office,” he says.
Both Porter and Preservation Louisville have criticized the mayor for not being more open about the agreement. (See Preservation Louisville’s statement here.) A spokesperson for the mayor says action was needed on the matter quickly. Blue says he’s dedicated to preserving the facades if possible, but is most concerned with safety.