VOL. 112 | NO. 3 | Wednesday, January 7, 1998
By CAMILLE H
Commission to hear views on Lauderdale Courts plan
By CAMILLE H. GAMBLE
The Daily News
The Memphis Landmarks Commission will meet today to discuss the partial demolition and rehabilitation of Lauderdale Courts and the nomination of the Delmar-Lema Historic District to the National Register of Historic Places.
The hearing on the partial demolition of Lauderdale Courts is likely to draw some opposition at the meeting, particularly from Elvis Presley fans.
Presley moved into Lauderdale Courts with his parents in 1949, and there are some who believe 185 Winchester, Apartment No. 328, is sacred property. These fans have even created a Web site on the Internet titled "Save Lauderdale Courts."
Although the building Presley lived in will be preserved, fans are still concerned about the future of the other 60 buildings.
"In working with the federal government guidelines for preserving historic places, we have already reached a tentative agreement that those buildings (the two larger buildings, including the one Presley lived in) will be offered for sale for development rather than torn down," said Darrell Cozen, historic preservation planner for the Memphis Landmarks Commission.
"MHA and HUD have backed off their original plan, and they are now going to send out RFPs (request for proposals) to developers."
Cozen said the main issue in today's meeting is the remaining buildings and how to treat them historically while modernizing them to eliminate some of their health and safety problems.
Cozen said the proposal is for 11 of the buildings to be torn down and the others rehabilitated.
"We are reviewing those plans to see if they are sympathetic to the historic character of the complex," Cozen said.
Lauderdale Courts was one of the first federal housing projects in the nation, built in 1936 by the Public Works Administration of Roosevelt's New Deal.
The 18 homes located in the Delmar-Lema district have been nominated for placement on the National Register of Historic Places due to their architectural qualities and also so the owner of the homes can receive tax credit for their renovation.
The vacant houses are owned by Columbus Baptist Church, which is adjacent to the neighborhood. The church, along with partner Memphis Heritage, plans to renovate and rent the homes.
"To be on the National Register, the property must qualify in at least one of four criteria," said Erin Hanafin Berg with the Memphis Landmarks Commission. "These homes are being nominated for their architectural qualities as an intact group of shotgun houses."
Flintco is the general contractor on the renovation project, and Capital Development is the developer.
Judith Johnson of Memphis Heritage said the homes will more than likely rent to low-income families or elderly citizens.
Johnson said construction should begin in early February, following lead paint abatement, which is underway.