Well, we thought the Main & Clay mixed-use apartment building planned by Bristol Development in Butchertown was making its way smoothly through the approval process after the Butchertown Architecture Review Committee (ARC) approved it four to one on December 10, but now there’s a new hurdle to clear.
The project had been supported by the Butchertown Neighborhood Association (BNA), the Nulu Business Association, and my editorial here on Broken Sidewalk, but has drawn criticism from some preservationists over the project’s plans to demolish three historic structures and incorporate their facades into the new building. One of those preservation groups, OPEN Louisville headed by attorney Stephen T. Porter, has now filed an appeal challenging the ARC’s approval of the development, according to Insider Louisville.
Bob Keesaer, the city’s urban design administrator had recommended denying the project since it didn’t meet the requirements of building within the historic district. He told Broken Sidewalk last year, “What I have on my desk in front of me right now shows that four historic buildings will be demolished. That’s in conflict with the design guidelines.” The ARC later overruled that staff recommendation, but according to Insider, Porter is arguing that the ARC “gave no justification for overruling the staff report.”
The ARC did ask for small changes be made to the design. “We have agreed to work on changing colors of upper portions of building, which was a condition of ARC approval,” Charles Carlisle, Bristol CEO, said in an email. “They want a more muted palette above the two story base, which I think will improve the aesthetics. Perhaps darker tones of same colors.”
He also told Broken Sidewalk that his company explored various options to relocate a townhouse on the site:
Just so you’re aware, we explored moving the house on Washington Street with the two top restoration / relocation groups in Louisville. The most highly rated was not willing to do a detailed proposal. They said if it could be moved it would cost between $300,000 – 400,000 but we would have to solve getting under power lines in every direction. The second one would not put a price on relocation, recommending strongly we not try to move it. They were concerned that the mortar is likely very unstable and that the brick walls would collapse. They also didn’t think it could be moved given the power lines in every direction. We even explored dismantling it and rebuilding it on another site but that wasn’t very practical and isn’t really preservation in any event.
“It’s unfortunate to see groups that are outside the neighborhood opposing the Main and Clay project,” Andy Cornelius, BNA president, told Broken Sidewalk in an email. “The people who actually live and work in Butchertown met, discussed, and voted in favor of the project. To my knowledge, not one resident is behind the efforts to stop this project—it’s all outside interests. The BNA’s position of support has not changed.”
I personally hope the Landmarks Commission upholds the ruling of the neighborhood ARC. Bristol had a successful meeting with the Land Development and Transportation Committee in January 22 and he will appear before the Landmarks Commission on February 22 when the appeal will be discussed.