July 31, 2011

Senator Rand Paul would have voted against entering WWII

Have you listened to Kentucky Senator Rand Paul's interview yesterday with CNN's Don Lemon?


The Senator's idea of compromise, gradually balancing our budget in 8 years, sounds so reasonable. But then again, he doesn't itemize how people would suffer unthinkable hardship as a result. Hard-working Americans, who were formerly known as the "Middle Class" are now mostly without healthcare, losing their homes and jobs, and facing unprecedented challenges to survive. The once revered concept of capitalism is at war on our own people, yet how much of country's resources is Senator Paul willing to pledge to defend our people?

Well, he wants to cap it, and let me tell you why that's wrong.

On December 8, 1941, following the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked the U.S. Senate to authorize our entry into World War II. The vote was 82-0 in favor of the decision to defend Americans. This weekend, like that weekend, the American people are under attack. While the aggressor may not be foreign, it is certainly a surprise attack, and the pain and suffering of those under under siege is not that different.

But had Senator Paul been in office at the time, how would he have voted? Because after all, there were no spending caps on that conflict. A specific passage of the declaration of war against Japan:
"...the President is hereby authorized and directed to employ the entire naval and military forces of the United States and the resources of the Governmentto carry on war against the Imperial Government of Japan; and, to bring the conflict to a successful termination, all the resources of the country are hereby pledged by the Congress of the United States."
Roosevelt was lucky. He had a U.S. Senate that understood what was at stake when Americans were vulnerable, and they pledged all the resources to defend them. Obama is not so lucky, is he Senator Paul?

July 30, 2011

S.1st St. is now two ways

This pic was taken by my friend Eric, and is the 1100 block of S. 1st. Street.

Update:
Also, Brook Street is two-way as well.
Talked to Dan Borsch, friend and owner of Burger Boy today, and he's excited the two-way streets, and kind of proud of the community for getting this done. As he should be.
And Jeff Noble has given the most comprehensive reporting ever of this topic, check it out:http://ohioriver606.blogspot.com/2011/07/691-going-my-way.html

July 29, 2011

Friday photo theme: Louisville, we can do better

Grass is a little high near the corner of 21st and Jefferson:
Picture by Attica Scott. "Walkn home shld not b like traversin a jungle; do sumn abt these freakn vacant properties!" she captioned it on Facebook. That's a great question, Attica.
Picture by Attica Scott.

Picture by Attica Scott.

Demo crew down at Todd Blue's Elmo Buildings, located at 306, 308, 310 E. Main St.:


Apparently they're trying to dismantle the architectural features, and I wonder why? Is Todd planning to re-install them on polls surrounding the new parking lot? Anyone with insight here, please fill me in. He can't preserve a building, but they're going to take the shit off it and put it up in a TGI Friday's? I need a nap, now.

Louisville, we can do better.

Preservationists gonna get some training and stuff

Any chance Todd Blue would want to sponsor a group of us to go to this? Please? Got this press release this morning from Preservation Kentucky:

Understanding the legislative process, crafting an effective message about the economic and practical benefits of historic preservation, and getting that message out to state and federal legislators will be the focus of a Historic Preservation Legislative Summit planned Thursday and Friday, Aug. 18-19 in Frankfort. The summit is co-sponsored by Preservation Kentucky Inc., a membership-based, nonprofit advocacy organization, and the Kentucky Heritage Council/State Historic Preservation Office.

The summit will include a basic overview of legislative fundamentals including how bills are proposed, proceed through committees, get introduced in the House and Senate, and ultimately become law. Participants will have the opportunity to meet and interact with state legislators. The summit will also feature a tour of the State Capitol with David Buchta, director of the Division of Historic Properties and State Curator, and an evening reception sponsored by Downtown Frankfort Inc. Sessions will take place in the Kentucky Capitol Annex.

Registration is open to anyone interested in the future of historic preservation legislation at the state and national level. Those who register by Friday, Aug. 12 will receive a discounted registration of $75. After this, the cost will be $100 per participant. Full-time students can participate for $40; this rate will be $55 after Aug. 12.

Other educational sessions will include:
• A guide to the Kentucky Legislature.
• Lobbying 101: How to deliver your message.
• Case studies in successful lobbying from statewide nonprofit organizations including the Kentucky Travel Industry Association and the Nature Conservancy of Kentucky.
• A lunchtime conversation with state legislators featuring Rep. Tanya Pullin of South Shore and Rep. Arnold Simpson of Covington.
• Renee Kuhlman, director of special projects with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Center for State and Local Policy, who will highlight successful case studies in historic preservation legislation from across the nation.
• Friday morning breakfast session with Erik Hein of Preservation Action in Washington, D.C., who will discuss legislation and funding as it relates to the federal preservation movement.

Breakout sessions Thursday afternoon will focus on a variety of topics, which may include financial incentives such as state and federal rehabilitation tax credit programs, archaeology, Native American or African American resources, the Kentucky Main Street Program, and others selected by participants. At the end of the summit, participants will have a prioritized list of educational goals for the 2012 Kentucky Legislature and an outline for a legislative action plan under the leadership of Preservation Kentucky. Additionally, the group will choose a week in February to designate Historic Preservation Week and suggest activities that highlight the importance of preservation to the Commonwealth.

“This summit is our opportunity as preservationists to set a legislative and educational agenda for our state as a group,” said Rachel Kennedy, Preservation Kentucky executive director. “Also, this summit should effectively allow us to create and cultivate a statewide historic preservation advocacy network, under PK’s umbrella.”

Registration will include lunch Thursday and breakfast Friday, both prepared with Kentucky Proud products. A block of hotel rooms has been reserved Aug 17-19 at the Capital Plaza Hotel in downtown Frankfort. Single or double-occupancy rooms are $84 plus tax. Reference the Historic Preservation Legislative Summit to receive a discounted rate, or visit www.capitalplazaky.com.

For more information about the summit or to access online registration, visit www.heritage.ky.gov/education/2011legissummit.htm or contact Preservation Kentucky, 502-871-4570 or email info@preservationkentucky.org.

This summit is hosted by Preservation Kentucky with financial assistance from Wilbur Smith and Associates of Lexington and AMEC Corporation, with offices in Louisville and Lexington. No General Fund dollars are used in support of this event.

NOTE: 1½ Kentucky Main Street Program training credits are available for conference attendance. For more, contact Becky Gorman, Kentucky Main Street coordinator, at becky.gorman@ky.gov or 502-564-7005, ext. 146.

July 28, 2011

Leaked email confirms Todd Blue's a jerk

If anyone out there who still believes that Todd Blue bought the Elmo's Building so he could preserve Louisville, I think it's time you and I have a "come to Jesus"-meeting.


This building was never worth more than $500k, tops. But a vacant corner lot on E. Main & Floyd, that's not encumbered with a pesky historic landmark, yeah, I expect that's worth about $2 million in the next 3-5 years. He bought the building to tear it down.

And this is why we need a Downtown Preservation District.

Video: Press Conference introducing LMAS Director



Wait...Wife? Child? Damn it to hell. I'm still going to support him with the mantra: support, optimism, and patience. Oh, wow, and they hired an African American veteran and a woman. Neat.

Also, speaking of LMAS, no one has adopted my foster yet. He's a 2-year old beagle, and his name is no longer Chubbs. He now goes by Dr. Chumley. Long story. Get with me, curtster3@gmail.com, 502-403-9498 to meet him.

July 26, 2011

Twenty-first Century Scholars Program needs local volunteers

Received this volunteer opportunity in today's email:
The Twenty-first Century Scholars Program is a state program in Indiana that offers low-income students in the 7-8th grade a scholarship program which will give them a full-tuition scholarship in the state of Indiana to attend a public school, as long as they meet a few basic requirements. For more information, see the Twenty-first Century website: http://www.in.gov/ssaci/2345.htm. The program’s value to students individually averages $24,000 dollars.
Its benefit to the students and to their families and community is invaluable.

Please Help Us to Register These Students! Registrations start as early as August 1st:
Your role is to provide basic information about the Scholars program to families of children enrolling in a Clark or Floyd County School. Your time commitment is as little as 2 hours!

As a volunteer, you will work a table at one of five area school registrations in Clark or Floyd County in early August involving 7th and 8th graders, to give them a flyer about the Program and to sign them up to receive an application packet.

Click here to register as a volunteer and select a school and time: https://volunteer.truist.com/muw-3/user/events/one.aspx?event_id=10471322670&utime=1311004451172589&init=0

Volunteers will be contacted by a team leader who will provide training, details, and other relevant information.

Thank you for being involved in this brief, simple, & vital community service.

Questions or having difficulties registering? Call Twenty-first Century Scholars at 812-941-2018.

Thanks for your help!

Twenty-first Century Scholars Program
Community Foundation of Southern Indiana
Multicultural Outreach Council
Metro United Way
Twenty-first Century Scholars Volunteer Advisory Team for Clark and Floyd County

(Um, that's awesome.)

Speaking of your orange basket

Hear Councilman Tom Owen talk about basics of what to put in your orange basket:


INTERESTING HIGHLIGHTS:
*We don't have to separate our recycling, anymore. Someone tell my old neighbor lady on Bonnycastle that.
*Put the top back on your plastic bottles.
*NO STYROFOAM OR PLASTIC SACKS! Oh, save your plastic sacks and give them to me for my pooch!
*We send our recycling to New Albany to be sorted.
*Again, NO PLASTIC SACKS!

I enjoyed that video. I've been wondering where that stuff went and how they separated it my whole life. Well, since we started recycling. :-)

Why do we need a Downtown Preservation District?

Overlay District Report RELEASED!

Mayor Fischer's office has again impressed me by complying with an open records request, and releasing the minutes of the Overlay District meeting that approved the demolition permit for 306-310 E. Main St, aka the Elmo's Building.

"The Demolition of the three structures...is part of a legal agreement signed on May 19, 2011 with the applicant and Louisville/ Jefferson County Metro Government and is therefore an administrative action."
AND...

"...a motion was made by Tim Mulloy and seconded by Stuart Goldberg to accept the findings of Staff with the conditions noted in decision below. The motion carried 10-0. Scott Kremer voted to approve but wanted it stated for the record that he was opposed to the demolition."

NOTE to Scott Kremer: Very touching, but next time might I suggest, VOTE AGAINST SOMETHING YOU'RE OPPOSED TO. THANK YOU.

The other seven Committee members that made this demolition possible include Chairman Anna Tatman, Michael Leonard, Dan Forte, Jon Henney, Stuart Goldberg, Ed Kruger, Dawn Warwick, and Charles Raith.

The complete minutes of the meeting:Uploaded to my Google docs.

In related news, there are questions about whether the demo of the Elmo's building is being carried out in a safe manner you can find out more about in an exclusive I wrote for Insider Louisville: Todd Blue does it his way: East Main semi-demolition leaves ruin no one else could get away with

July 25, 2011

Monday recap: LMAS eh, David Williams tough, and Dainty is IN

Louisville Metro Animals Services released a video today that gives us great confidence that interim leadership has their problems completely control. (sarcasm)


Republican gubernational candidate Senator David Williams releases a commercial inferring he's the "TOUGH" bully that stole my lunch money back in 3rd grade: WFPL: Ad Stresses Williams Grit

National Dainty Championship Rocks Schnitzelburg: Braving the 90 degree heat, Dainty (and beer) enthusiasts made it out to enjoy Schnitzelburg's oldest annual tradition (besides beer), the National Dainty Competition.

Oh, and lots of folks were wearing Beshear/Abramson stickers, but I never tracked down their source. Tony and Ann Lindauer were there so maybe they came from them. (speculation)

July 24, 2011

Downtown Preservation District: Let's do it!


I almost never have pictures of myself on my blog but today my followers get a treat. My friend Laura Wallace snapped this as I was lobbying Metro Councilman Tom Owen to support the creation of a Downtown Preservation District. He's on board if he's assured that a Metro Council ordinance is the way to go. (Working on that.) Also, have we have received assurances of support from Councilman Jim King.

So now we need to get language together. Hoping attorney Steve Porter will do that, and maybe he's already said he will I have about 50 emails to sift through. If he says no, I don't blame him, as I was terribly unfair to him recently with frustration that should have been directed toward Mayor Greg Fischer, for ever representing that preservationists had a seat at the table in a negotiation in which they clearly did not. (BTW, If you're the lone preservationist that GF was talking about, you should make yourself known.) But I digress...

If you want to preemptively let your Council person know you support the creation of a Downtown Preservation District, that would be great! You don't have to hassle them in person, you can do it online with a click: http://www.louisvilleky.gov/MetroCouncil

July 23, 2011

Finally watched the Benny Breeze video

Oh go ahead, it's not going to hurt you:



While I have serious issues with the motivation behind the financing of this video, and many facts portrayed in the video, and even the perpetuation of stereotypes, I do commend Chris Saunders, Brennan Clark and Kyle Crews for creating a crisp and professional final product. I can only imagine how much editing that took and for a couple guys to pull it off in a pretty short period of time, good for them. Hopefully their next project will be sponsored by a force that isn't quite as subversive.

My favorite part is at the end when a boat circles around in the river. And the image of Jane Beshear baking cookies for Benny- yeah, that made me chuckle.

July 22, 2011

My entry for "Preservation Picture of the day!"

My entry for "Preservation Picture of the day!"

Also, is the graffiti we've been seeing around downtown directed at Todd Blue? This happened last night on Henry Potter's(?) Fleur de Lis building next to the Elmo's & city-owned space they're giving him. I say last night because it wasn't in my pictures yesterday. This victimized building is located on the lot where we lost another historic building in the not so distant past, the Brinly Hardy.



See how close that graffiti is to the proposed demolition. Interestingly, this graffiti is found kinda close to other Blue buildings too, like on walls leaving the ballpark near the Cobalt Marketplace. And I understand there's been 4 windows broken out in Preston Place in the last month in condos that Todd Blue owns. There's one broken right now, in fact. I don't condone vandalism or graffiti but I think it's interesting when even criminals are opposed to tearing down historic buildings.

I learned today, when they tore down the Will Sales Building in 1979, they started in the dead of night. But Todd Blue...pay overtime? This will be interesting to watch...

Oh, and so I'm not leaving you depressed and in despair, here's a chuckle for the day:

Awkward, could someone tell Greg about Fairness Ordinance?

In a contract between Mayor Fischer and Todd Blue, dated July 12th (document), it appears our Mayor, Jefferson County Attorney Mike O'Connell's office, and developer Todd Blue, are not very familiar with Metro Louisville's Fairness Ordinance. In a contract they signed, most itemized protected classes were included, but gender identity was left out. This contract is on property adjacent to the Elmo's building which housed the gay bar Murphy's, and a rock's throw from the Connection and Boots. The Connection and Boots are gay bars owned by enthusiastic Fischer supporter, George Stinson. Stinson is also the Chairman of the Kentucky Human Rights Commission, and his bars are a rock's throw away from this property.

Check out Section 1.07 on Non Discrimination:
"Upon completion of the Project, Developer agrees to abide by all -fair housing laws- public accommodation law and will not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, color, creed, disability, sexual orientation or national origin, in the sale, lease, rental, use or occupancy of the Project."


When Louisville's fairness ordinance originally passed in 1999, it was unique as it offered protections not only on the basis of sexual orientation, but also gender identity. At that time, gender identity still was not a protected class in New York City. That's just how we roll. In December 2004, following the merger of our city and county governments, our Metro Council also adopted the fairness ordinance, with gender identity projection.

FUN FACT: While speaking before former President Clinton just before the 2010 election, Fischer referred to the Fairness Ordinance as the "Non-discrimation Ordinance." I'll be damned, I was there:

Oh, that thing where "fair housing laws" was crossed out and replaced with "public accommodation," I don't know what to think about that. What it technically means is that if there's a residential component to anything Blue builds on the lot we're giving him for a $1 beside the building he's tearing down, then the mayor has obligated him to comply with some fairness protections, but not all of them.

Additionally, it's noted that the Metro Council must declare this parcel to be excess property at it's July 28th meeting, before this closing can occur. Actually there's a lot of conditions before the closing can occur, but if it doesn't, Blue will still have gotten the demo permit to tear down Elmo's. If I was the city's real estate broker, I would have provided us with a tad more protection.


Update 7/22/2011 6:39 PM
1) Metro Councilman Tom Owen told me this afternoon that a committee he is on approved the parcel as being declared at "excess property" yesterday, so it will be voted on at the 7/28/2011 Metro Council meeting, pursuant to the contact between Fischer & Blue.

2) The building, miraculously, still stands. For my entry for "Preservation Picture of the Day" go here: (http://louisvillecourant.blogspot.com/2011/07/my-entry-for-preservation-picture-of.html)

She put an elderly beagle in a trunk?



Christ. Poor Chris Poynter. His job really sucks.

Unrelated, funny comments hitting the Preservation Louisville Facebook wall:

July 21, 2011

Demo of perfectly sound Elmo's building begins

Photo by me, about 9 PM

Photo by Laura Wallace, 11 PM

And guess what, Whiskey Row contract revised July 12

First, today's press conference on the Call for a Downtown Preservation District, went great!
And remember Elmo's Building: The question for Greg? Well, they surprisingly complied with my open records request well within the time they had to by law, and we have answers in both of these 2 files that uploaded for you:
Original Signed Whiskey Row contract: http://ow.ly/5Kmat
REVISED Whiskey Row contract July 12th: http://ow.ly/5KjuG
I'm not done comparing them, but one thing is for sure: The Elmo's building was sacrificed to make the Whiskey Row Row deal work, despite it not being disclosed to the public, and they didn't tell us about that. It still hasn't gone mainstream. As one of my 2 readers, you're so in the know right now.

Oh, and I got a tip from the CJ that the Overlay committee didn't even consider the demolition petition but approved it "administratively" whatever that means. I've requested from the city the minutes of that meeting and they've been nice about it acknowledging that request.

Oh the second thing, apparently the city didn't realize it owned "lot 2" which it says is located at 324 E. Main St. That's just one of the reasons the contract had to be restated and amended. Weird cause 324 E. Main St is the address for the Fleur de Lis. Someone got a clarification on that they want to share that'd be great.
Awkward fail. (Maybe they should have hired a REAL real estate broker instead of an unlicensed one like LDDC that yes, got a commission because they're getting a building out of the deal. Note to self: File complaint against LDDC tomorrow)

Laura Wallace went down to the Filson Club today and discovered that in 1909 they changed the addresses on this block (See images below). For example, the original Brinly Hardy address was 312-340 but was changed to 344-368. Anyone have insight to the original address or use of the "Elmo's" building that we're calling it today? In lieu of how ridiculous this process was, maybe it's not to late to save this building. Anyone have any history to the building to add?


I'm late for a KFTC economic justice working group meeting thingy so if there's typos I sorry.

More demo equipment outside Elmo's building


The young and beautiful Laura Wallace, of City Concierge, and I are thinking of chaining ourselves to the equipment. We're both kind of good-looking and it's really hot out there, what do you think, should we do it?

Oh, and here's the notes distributed to the media at today's Neighborhood Planning and Preservation press conference outside the building:

July 21, 2011 1:00 PM
Neighborhood Planning and Preservation, Inc. Press Conference:
Elmo's Building shows need for Downtown Preservation District

Contact: Martina Kunnecke, President
nppkentuckiana@gmail.com
502-899-9986

Overview

The Elmo's Building located at 306-310 E. Main Street in downtown Louisville, Kentucky, was once known as the Robert L. Schmitt Co. Building. It is actually two adjoining three-story brick and limestone buildings built sometime before 1890. They are included as Contributing Buildings in the Phoenix Hill Historic District, and would likely be eligible for the National Register.

The demolition of these buildings by developer Todd Blue will be possible anytime after today.

Louisville preservationists have been scrambling to put themselves in front of wrecking balls for half a century now, usually with 1-2 months notice, and little support from our own city's government. It is no surprise that we have met more with failure, than success. These buildings will be the latest casualty in this war against our historic structures. They are being sacrificed as a condition of another back-room deal our Mayor made with developer Todd Blue. A condition of the Whiskey Row deal that was not made known to the general public includes the city using what they referred to as their "best efforts" with the Downtown Development Review Overlay to obtain wrecking permits for these buildings. The general public was not a party to that negotiation, and neither were we.

Pursuant to Section V. of Mayor Fischer's Citizen's Bill of Rights, there was not, and still is not, open communications between the Mayor and the community on this deal.

Preservationists are tired of being on the defensive, and would like to change the rules.

Preservation is about deciding what's important, figuring out how to protect it, and passing along an appreciation for what was saved to the next generation.

Our city hasn't always been anti-preservation. When Harvey Sloane was mayor, he created the city’s Office of Historic Preservation, and with his support the Landmarks Commission was created, too. He walked the walk by living in Old Louisville, first on Belgravia Court and then on Fourth at Magnolia. It's very possible to both be Louisville's Mayor, and value the preservation of of her character.

Instead of continuing the status quo, our new Louisville mayor has an opportunity to honor the course charted by Mayor Sloane with a pro-active approach to preserving our history and heritage. 

We're asking that Mayor Greg Fischer and the Louisville Metro Council acknowledge that historic structures add immeasurable value to our downtown by supporting the creation of a Downtown Preservation District. This district would take an itemized list of historically significant structures in our city's central business district, and provide those buildings with a blanketed protection from whimsical demolition.  

Benefits of a Downtown Preservation District include:

*Saving our buildings, and preserving our history. Louisville has a rich history and an abundance of significant architecture represented in its buildings. That history and architecture is worthy of conservation.
*Attracting people to live downtown. This is done by maintaining the components of our downtown that are aesthetically desirable, while accommodating desirable change.
*Economic growth and redevelopment. The creation of another parking lot signals not growth, but decline. Harmonious, thoughtful and planned redevelopment that is respectful of the historic value of existing buildings does foster economic growth and redevelopment.
*Respect for property owners. Preserving old buildings is not only difficult, but it's expensive. Without the use of historic tax credits, developers often struggle to make old buildings profitable. Sometimes they have no option but to take the easy way out, through demolition. When a culture of preservation is adopted, a city can focus on rewarding our stewards by assisting with state and federal tax credits. With a culture of preservation, we could choose to offer city tax credits to reward property owners for their stewardship of our history.
*Tourism. In 1971, the City of Lexington, Virginia created an Historic Downtown Preservation District, with an Architectural Review Board to oversee it. As a result, the city is known for its architecture and remarkable record for historic preservation.
*Staying true to our heritage. Louisville has never been a plastic, modern, and sterile community, and that's a good thing. We want a mix of old and new, and the best place for the new is the existing vacant lots that already plague our downtown.

Downtown District Boundaries proposed:
Beginning at Ninth Street to Breckinridge Street to I-65 to the Ohio River and back to Ninth Street. This would include the West Main District which would be excluded from the new District, although the Guidelines and other documented relationships with public corporations and quasi governmental entities should be consistent with West Main District.

Structures contributing to the proposed Downtown Preservation District*:


M.E.Taylor Building
Kentucky Home Life Bldg.
Court House
City Hall
Sinking Fund Bldg.
Actors Theatre
Old Medical School
Dental School
Union Station
Pendenis Club
Stewart's
Stark's Bldg.
Cathedral of the Assumption Complex
Christ Church Cathedral Complex
old Water Company Bldg.
Odd Fellows Hall
old 3rd Parking Garage
Art Deco Building 3rd and Liberty
Morrisy (Old Courier Journal?) Building
East and west side of Fifth Street Jefferson Street to Main
4th Street Breckenridge to Main Street

*This only a rough list, that would need to be developed, and agreed on by our community. Buildings that have already been designated will of course remain designated.



July 20, 2011

Elmo's Building: Pre-demolition pictures

Made it down to the Elmo's building today at 306-308-310 E. Main St, Louisville, KY 40202. Undoubtedly this building appears to be in better structural condition than most of the buildings in our downtown. Yet, the demo fence is now up, and the demo equipment is arriving. By Friday, this building will likely be gone:

















We could have seen this coming, if someone didn't leave out a detail about the deal he made with Todd Blue:

Complete timeline of how this came to happen itemized, including the Mayor's office's latest efforts to prevent the release of the contract: Elmo's Building: The question for Greg.
What can we learn from this?:
The call for a Downtown Preservation District

The call for a Downtown Preservation District


If you need a primer on why the Elmo's Building will probably be demolished on Friday: Elmo's Building: The question for Greg.
You know the Mayor's driven me to distraction when I let the CJ scoop me from a press release I wrote: Preservation district proposed for downtown

The Elmo's Building is a three-story brick and limestone building, and its demolition by developer Todd Blue will be possible anytime after Thursday, July 21st.

Neighborhood Planning and Preservation, Inc. will be holding a press conference to discuss how this demolition is a wake-up call for NPP's continued call for a Downtown Preservation District, as promised by the previous administration:

Location: Sidewalk nearest to the Elmo's Building
306-310 E. Main St, Louisville, KY 40202
Do not congregate in the road though, that's not safe!
Date/Time: Thursday, July 21, 2011 at 1 PM
Facebook event: Please RSVP & share it on your wall!

Louisville preservationists have been scrambling to put themselves in front of wrecking balls for half a century now, usually with 1-2 months notice, and little support from our own city's government. It is no surprise that we have met more with failure, than success. The latest casualty of this war against our historic structures will be the building at 308-310 E. Main St. The building is being sacrificed as part of a back-room deal between developer Todd Blue and our Mayor himself. The public was not a party to that negotiation and neither were we. Preservationists are tired of being on the defensive, and would like to change the rules.

With a new mayor, we have an opportunity to chart a new course for Louisville that includes a pro-active approach to preserving our history and heritage. We're asking that Mayor Greg Fischer and the Louisville Metro Council acknowledge that historic structures add immeasurable value to our downtown by supporting the creation of a Downtown Preservation District. This district would take an itemized list of historically significant structures in our city's central business district, and provide those buildings with a blanketed protection from whimsical demolition.

Elmo's Building: The question for Greg.

Hope you like timelines!

5/09/2011 Mayor Fischer Newsroom: Fischer Announces Plans to Preserve Historic Whiskey Row Nowhere in the announcement did Mayor Greg Fischer disclose an agreement with Blue to facilitate wrecking permits for the Elmo's Building, located at 306-310 E. Main St.

5/12/11 AM Mayor's office provides "fact sheet" to Metro Council.
Journalist Phillip M. Bailey gets his hands on it, and does a story that morning:Council Receives ‘Fact Sheet’ on Whiskey Row Deal Unfortunately, Bailey did not mention the Elmo's building, and the WFPL link to that worksheet did not work. (still doesn't)
“This is more of a fact sheet of what the proposed participation is and when you have a memo typically it’s a formal document with signatures and all that good stuff,” - Councilman Ken Fleming told Bailey before the Council meeting.
I have procured Fischer's "fact sheet" and uploaded to my Google Docs: GO AND SEE THE CRAZY THING RIGHT HERE Here's the language in the memo:
"Metro will use best efforts with the Downtown Development Review Overlay to obtain wrecking permits for the building on 306 E. Main and the permitting of a parking lot with the understanding that Iron Quarter will use best efforts to develop the property within a reasonable time."
5/12/11 PM Metro Council passed ordinance O-116-05-11
Scratching head. This ordinance DID NOT mention the demo of the Elmo's building. The final agenda of that Metro Council meeting DID NOT mention the demo of the Elmo's building. I just listened to this whole meeting, no one mentions the Elmo's Building at all. Watch it for yourself:
Get Microsoft Silverlight

05/12/11 Marianne P. Zickuhr, the Executive Director Preservation Louisville, Inc. sends this in email to the preservation community:
"I wanted to make sure that you all know and are clear that this deal that the LDDC worked to make happen does definitely include Todd being given the Elmo's building across from Slugger field- for the purpose of demo for a surface parking lot. That has been a part of the deal for quite some time."

05/16/11, 1:40 PM After scratching my head a few days, I send an email to Zickuhr:
"Marianne,
There's an email from you that's been circulated amongst preservation partners in which you wrote:
'...Todd being given the Elmo's building across from Slugger field- for the purpose of demo for a surface parking lot.'
I believe there's quite a bit of confusion as a result of that sentence. I understand the Elmo's building is already owned by 310 E. Main St, which is an entity Blue already owns. (last deed attached) Obviously the city wouldn't be "giving" Blue a building he already owns. Could you please clarify what you meant by that sentence?
Thanks, much!
Curtis Morrison
Board Member, NPP Kentuckiana"
05/16/11, 1:50 PM Zickuhr writes back:
"Curtis,

I'm sorry for any confusion, that was not my intention. I made a mistake - and it is the land adjacent to the Elmo's building that the city is selling to Todd for $1. Again- I am sorry for any confusion. My intention was to let the parties in the intervention know that as I have been told - this was not a new development in this agreement but something the LDDC had been working on for quite some time."
Me: What a relief, for a moment I thought Fischer told Blue he could tear down the Elmo's Building.

06/20/2011, Demolition Permit goes up on Elmo's Building
Me: Ugh.

06/24/2011, Broken Sidewalk Breaks:Demo Watch: Todd Blue Strikes Again
In that story, preservation attorney Steve Porter tells Branden Klayko:
“That’s the deal the mayor made. I think he gave away the store here,” Porter says.
“The most important thing is to save Whiskey Row.” Zickuhr said.
07/13/2011 I post on this blog:Why does Todd Blue always gotta tear shit down? In this entry I echo that the reason Preservation Louisville is doing nothing to save Elmo's is because of a "backroom deal," which at the time I believed to be true.

Yes, the window to oppose the demolition permit closes Thursday. But before we draw conclusions, I believe there is a question to pose to Mayor Fischer:

The Question: Did you commit to Todd Blue that "Metro will use best efforts with the Downtown Development Review Overlay to obtain wrecking permits for the building on 306 E. Main?" (As stated in the "fact sheet" you provided to Metro Council) And if so, have you signed a contractual agreement to that effect?
(Gentle readers can ask him, too. He's got a fancy page just for that purpose.)

Update: 7/20/11, 11:37 AM:
Since the Mayor still hasn't posted or emailed me a response, I have emailed all 26 members of our Metro Council to see if any of them have any input. I'll update you if I get any new information.

Update: 7/20/11, 1:03 PM:
Tommy Clark (sorry was typo here earlier) with the Mayor's office has returned my call, and confirmed verbally that the Mayor did sign a contract that committed Metro to using "best efforts with the Downtown Development Review Overlay" to approve the demo permit. He made a point to clarify the Mayor didn't commit to the demo permit though.

I asked him if "best efforts" included intimidation, as the Mayor after all appoints that board. He said no. He said that just means the Mayor will "lay out the facts for them." (cough) Fact:Mayor appoints Downtown Development Review Overlay Board.(cough) Clark (typo corrected) has agreed to fax me that contract between the city and Todd Blue and I look forward to uploading that damn thing once I receive it for all the world to finally see.

7/20/11, 2:09 PM: Email from Chris Poynter regarding my request for the contract:

7/20/11, 2:27 PM: Mike McConnell's office has also refused to cooperate with my request for the contract. (Tommy Clark had initially insisted I go to Mike to obtain the contract.)
What is in this contract that's causing the Mayor to guard it so enthusiastically from the public?

7/20/11 7:20 PM: Update
1) The demo equipment is starting to arrive at the Elmo's building: Elmo's Building: Pre-demolition pictures
2) Just ran across a video of the Mayor's 05/09/2011 Whiskey Row press conference and sacrificing the Elmo's building was not mentioned there either:

3) As of this time, the mayor's office still has not released the contract signed with Blue.

7/26/11 8:24 PM: Final update:
I usually don't go overboard with updates on posts this old, but an error has been pointed out to me and I must clarify. I attributed the quote “The most important thing is to save Whiskey Row.” mistakenly to Marianne Zickuhr, when it should have been attributed to Steve Porter.

Also, how it all turns out...the mayor's office released the contract, and the revision to the contract: And guess what, Whiskey Row contract revised July 12. And the mayor's office released the minutes of the Overlay meeting when the demo permit was issued: Overlay District Report RELEASED! What we learned from those contracts and that meeting, the mayor did commit Metro Louisville to granting Blue the demolition permit, whether Tommy Clark says he did or not. Also the "best efforts" language in the memo to Metro Council and relayed by Clark, ended up being a notable understatement, which explains the hesitation in being forthcoming with those contracts.

And yes, the buildings are being torn down: Why do we need a Downtown Preservation District?(Warning: SAD VIDEO OF DEMOLITION)

Finally, something positive might come out of this hot mess: The call for a Downtown Preservation District