Got Two Cents on the Iron Quarter? Jennifer Charles–New Architect on the Block

On her travels before finding Louisville as home, Jennifer relaxes during an Oregon hike..

Born in Gloucester, Virginia, Jennifer Charles graduated college at the University of Virginia in 1992 before traveling across the nation to earn her Masters in Architecture at UCLA in 1999. There’s a world of history and design in between and that’s pretty much where she and husband Ed Charles, decided to settle. Right in the middle of everywhere here in Louisville.

Published in LEO’s “Letters to the Editor” in the February 23, 2011 issue, the relatively new citizen to the Metro and downtown business owner asked questions of both Todd Blue and Greg Fischer.

I asked if she had two cents more. She did.

In 2008, my husband and I left Los Angeles and embarked on a 4-month road trip around the United States searching for a new city to live in. We decided early in our trip that instead of moving someplace everyone knows is great (Portland, Seattle), we would look for a lesser-known city that was up-and-coming. We picked Louisville.

Why Louisville? For me, one of the deciding factors was a strong downtown supported by local investment, sophisticated design, and unified passion. Although I discovered that many great historic buildings had been torn down in the past, it seemed that current sentiments valued the urban assets left standing, ready to be developed in thoughtful, provocative ways (21c Museum Hotel, The Green Building).

When I read the news about the Iron Quarter demolition agreement, I was compelled to voice my dismay. The agreement seemed wrong to me on so many levels, and I tried to explain that in my letter. From the back-room negotiations to the $450,000 promise to “hopefully” save the facades, the whole situation just sounded like a bad business deal for downtown.

We now have 74 days left in the 90-day window outlined in the agreement to produce a resolution that is in the best interest of the city. And by “we” and “the city”, I mean everyone: the citizens, the mayor’s office, Metro Council, Todd Blue. No one wants to see a parking lot next to our new arena for the next 5 years. Everyone wants to see the Whiskey Row block continue to be revitalized. We must strive for a resolution that supports the existing assets on this block and capitalizes on the forward momentum of East Main Street.