LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - When does historic preservation go too far? Thursday evening, that question gets its first test before the Metro Council.
It's an issue WAVE 3 has reported on for years, most recently in November, where the landmarks designation was the focus of John Boel's investigation. Critics say the wishes of a relatively few people can cause something to be designated a local landmark, in some cases leaving otherwise developable property to rot.
The Metro Council will, for the first time, use a new law to review the landmark designation of a Portland building. Some say it's a nod to the past; others say it's getting in the way of Portland's future.
"This is one of the first buildings built that far west on Market Street," said Portland resident John Owen of the Cavalier Inn. "This isn't the suburbs and it's not a crumbling old building to Portland. It is a viable gateway building to this neighborhood."
Late last year, the building on the corner of 26th and Market was designated a local landmark, which means owner Steve Miller's plans to tear it down and redevelop the land as a Family Dollar store are on hold.
"Do we want a metal box? No," Owen said.
Miller didn't want to be on camera, saying he didn't want to pick a fight with the neighborhood but said it's just a difference of opinion on what's best to move the neighborhood forward.
He's asked Councilwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton to use a new metro law to review the Landmarks Commission decision on the Cavalier.
"People are very unhappy with Councilwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton for even putting this to the table and not listening to her voters who keep her in office," Owen said.
"I'm remaining neutral on this," Bryant Hamilton said. "If the designation had gone the other way and the neighborhood had wanted to appeal that decision, I would have offered them the same opportunity."
In August, the council overturned a veto by the mayor to give itself the power to review the decisions by the appointed Landmarks Commission.
"We feel like rather than going straight to Circuit Court, there ought to be an opportunity to resolve these kind of decisions," Bryant Hamilton said of the law.
The Cavalier is its first test.
Even if the council sides with the property owner, this will likely end up in court. It could be years before anything happens to the building.
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