Got Two Cents on the Iron Quarter? Councilman Tom Owen Ponders

A true spokes person for the history and progress of the city. Photo:

I always respect my Council representative for his near immediate responses to  constituent’s questions and needs. He is passionate about Louisville and one of the most accessible leaders in Metro Government.

I know that he is a Voice for the city as well as our Highlands community, which has enough history in a few square miles to make any preservationist proud and enough dining, pubs and retail business to inspire locals and impress any city.

It took a few rounds of email and here are Tom Owen’s two cents:

My first blush thoughts:

Someone from the Louisville Downtown Development Commission–over the decades they have helped negotiate arrangements

David Jones Sr.–he bought the now-vacant lot at the corner of the block to hopefully stabilize it; before anything could be done, The building totally collapsed into the street; hopefully no one was injured

Phil Scherer, many times chair of the Landmarks Commission, a commercial realtor, and a partner in a major condo development at Preston and Main that involved major conflict with landmarking all or parts of the “Brinley Hardy buildings”

Someone from Planning and Preservation–the advocacy group?

Further thought:

For me, the key issues are:

1.  Are all seven (7) buildings in danger of imminent collapse?

2.  Is there any correlation at all between ultimate value of the fully-preserved buildings and the cost of their restoration?

3.  Facade preservation is an interesting concept that I’ve not been very warm to although the Lovenhart’s Men’s store facade was literally “attached” to the new Marriott to become their sports bar there on the corner of 3rd and Jefferson.  I’d say that worked out pretty well.

Then wrapping it up on a Feb. 17 email:

I have some confidence that there’s more to come on Iron Quarter: for instance, Mr. Blue if a price can be decently negotiated might be willing to sell several of the buildings to persons with a deeper commitment to preservation–minimally the facades.


You’ve asked about the agreement the Mayor struck with Mr. Blue, owner of the historic buildings on Main Street.

The Mayor and his administration tell me that they were at a crossroads in Mr. Blue’s federal suit to force the city to allow him to demolish the buildings. The Mayor was fearful that there was sufficient evidence to convince the judge to order immediate demolition — facades and all. I believe also the Mayor wanted to avoid another prolonged and expensive litigation where the city had a weak hand. Clearly, the case turned on the issue of whether the buildings were in imminent danger of collapse.

I love those historic buildings between 1st and 2nd on West Main, but based on what I now know the preservation of the facades of the endangered structures may be the best we can do. The Mayor, working with the Council and Mr. Blue, had 90 days to determine what it’s going to take to accomplish that goal. There are several options being bandied about and I do not believe the city has given up its ability to insist on their incorporation into any new construction.

The future of the Iron Quarter buildings is an issue that deserves your concern and attention. I am sure that in the coming weeks there will be a great deal more public discussion. As always, your view is important to me.

The next post will feature former District 19 Metro Councilman Hal Heiner offering his two cents as a passionate citizen of Louisville, an experienced business leader and civil engineer.