Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Mayor Fischer's latest back-room deal crushes Iron Quarter

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer confirmed the suspicions of his detractors yesterday when it was announced yet another "back room" secret deal had been made, this time between the new mayor and developer Todd Blue.

Blue will be allowed to raze the historic Iron Quarter buildings on Main Street within 90 days, "hopefully" saving the facades.

A Leo Weekly article from May 2010 cited the Main Street corridor as "home to the second-largest number of cast-iron facades in the world, exceeded only by the famed Soho district in New York City. At least two of the buildings owned by Blue are listed on the National Register of Historic Places."

A Fischer spokesperson says a deal was made because the city was afraid it might lose in court. That is an unfamiliar tactic in Louisville. The city always seemed willing to pursue every other case to the bitter end -even when it was wrong to do so- as it did during the recent legal battle with the firefighters on overtime pay.

But in this case, a deal that circumvented public input and tip-toed past the Landmark Commission was the best the city could do.

In an interview on Fox41, developer Blue said he was impressed with the "pro-business" attitude of the city's new administration while he, like so many others, struggled to make the transition to saying "Mayor Fischer" rather than "Mayor Abramson". It is worth noting that former Mayor Abramson wanted to protect the buildings and tried to coax Cobalt into a deal to save face and get out of the project in 2008.

Blue purchased the dilapidated buildings and allowed them to deteriorate further under his watch. That much is certain.

Holes in the roofs of the buildings since 2008 have gone ignored by Blue and his company, Colbalt Ventures.

Fischer will go to the Metro Council with a request that $450,000 be given to Cobalt Vultures Ventures.

The ultimate fate of the buildings now seems clear.

A sad day. A sad fate. One question remains: What's next?

Read More: Insider Louisville - Downtown getting new parking lot? Iron Quarter deal with city gives Todd Blue permission to clear historic buildings

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