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VOL. 117 | NO. 80 | Wednesday, April 23, 2003

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Landmarks, Center City at odds over buildings fate

Landmarks, Center City at odds over buildings fate

By STACEY WIEDOWER

The Daily News

Demolition of a 1950s-era building at 114 S. Main St. the only structure still standing in a fire damaged area known by Downtown officials as the big hole in the ground is up for discussion at the Memphis Landmarks Commissions regular monthly meeting, which begins at 4:30 p.m. today in City Hall, 125 N. Main.

The Center City Commission requested demolition of the structure to make room for the Downtown Parking Authority a CCC board to build a parking garage and mixed-use commercial/residential development.

Landmarks staff recommended denial of the application.

The Landmarks Commission does not have the ability just to recommend the demolition of a structure based on the needs of the community, said Landmarks manager Nancy Jane Baker. Our job is to protect those historic structures from adverse use or abuse.

Thats why the staff recommended that it be denied.

However, the building reflects a strange position for the commission, because its date of construction the mid-1950s makes it too young to qualify as a historic structure, Baker said.

If it stands long enough, it will be considered a contributing building to the district, but odds are its not going to stand that long, she said.

She added that if Landmarks Commission members go along with the staffs recommendation to deny the demolition request, the CCC is likely to appeal the request with the Memphis City Council, which can override the commissions decision.

She said Landmarks ultimate decision on the issue is unclear at this point.

I think that several (commission members) will go along with the denial of the application, and I think that several of them understand the economics of what Center City is trying to do and may go along with approving the demolition, she said.

Either way, Baker believes the building eventually will come down.

Center City has basically based their entire concept on the demolition of that building, so that they have the space they feel they need for the new parking garage, she said. It also gives the developers access to an existing street.

Otherwise, that whole project does not have access to anything other than Main, which is a wonderful street, but not vehicular oriented.

Also at todays meeting, commission members will discuss another project planned for the CCCs Main Street Demonstration Block developer Bob Williams redevelopment of 85-89 S. Main.

A five-story commercial and residential structure is planned for the site, which contains the former Perez Cigar Shop building. Landmarks approval of the proposed buildings design is required prior to demolition of the existing structures, Baker said.

Landmarks staff recommended approval of the request.

The commission also plans to discuss demolition of an early 20th century bungalow at 1718 York Ave. in the Central Gardens Historic Conservation District. The structure is owned by Immaculate Conception school, which plans to use the site as a new parking lot.

Theres some indication that they have long-range plans for possibly putting a building in there, Baker said. Theyre not sure at the moment.

If commission members grant the demolition request, Memphis Heritage should be allowed to salvage any and all applicable details from the structure, a Landmarks staff report stated.

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 0 56 9,658
MORTGAGES 0 49 10,665
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 0 12 1,301
BUILDING PERMITS 0 548 21,505
BANKRUPTCIES 0 256 6,219
BUSINESS LICENSES 0 64 4,003
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 60 2,952
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 52 2,073