Louisville Magazine

MAR 2014

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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Page 59 of 124

3.14 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 5 7 mark status for each of the seven buildings. Blue's demolition request now had to wait for the landmarking process to run its course. But the real-estate investor said demolition couldn't wait and took the city to court in an attempt to force the matter. Tings took a strange turn when Greg Fischer entered the mayor's ofce in 2007. Suddenly the city and Blue were on the same side. Fischer gave Blue the OK to destroy the buildings, an exercise of power that bypassed both the Landmarks Commission and the Waterfront Development Corp., which has the authority to review construction in the waterfront area. Tat's when Porter stepped to the plate. "His representation in the Whiskey Row debate, his representa- tion for the preservation community, was stellar — no question," says Charles Cash, board president of Preservation Louisville and former director of Louisville Metro Planning & Design Services. Porter fled a brief with the federal court on behalf of Preservation Louisville and several other groups, as well as an adjoining-property owner. "We got involved and said, 'Oh, wait a minute now. You've got a plaintif and defendant who are now on the same side.'" Porter says. "We came in and said, 'Judge, you can't let them do that. Tis is a bad deal.'" Te judge, it turned out, agreed. Ultimately, fve of the seven buildings were saved when the mayor and the Downtown Development Corp. assembled a group of inves- tors to buy the properties. Te investors group, led by Brown-Forman heiress Laura Lee Brown, husband Steve Wilson and the Brown-For- man Corp., bought four of the threatened buildings for $4.85 million. Blue donated a ffth building to the Downtown Development Corp., which handed it over to the investors. In return, Blue kept the two properties that couldn't be saved. Investors agreed to stabilize the cast- iron facades of Blue's two buildings, and the city sold another lot on Main Street to Blue for a dollar. Perhaps feeling that something had to be knocked down after all this sturm-und-drang, the city granted Blue permission to raze a building in the 300 block of East Main that dated to the 1890s. It is now a parking lot. "Te deal that was struck, I would have never agreed to," Porter says. "Someone else pays for it, and all (Blue) has to do is bring in some dirt and put some asphalt down, and he has a parking lot that will make a million dollars because of the Yum! Center. He owns it in perpetuity. He can keep it as a parking lot for fve years; then he's sup- posed to do something else with it. But I can see fve years from now, him working a deal with somebody and them saying, 'Oh, let's do fve more.'" Blue declined to comment for this story, remarking in an email, "Not sure that benefts anyone at this point. Steve does not seem to be for progress. I am for progress. Iron Quarter is ancient history to me." What happened in the protracted battle over the Iron Quarter is somewhat typical of preservation in Louisville. At times, it simply limps along; occasionally, it doesn't even do that, Porter notes. Last summer, for instance, what might have been the last two-story log cabin in the county was demolished without debate or even a conver- sation. Te owner of the former John E's restaurant in Buechel had a proper demolition permit, and, as the law requires, it was posted on the restaurant door. No one who cared saw the sign, and no further notice was required, even for a cabin built before the Civil War, around 1851. Porter, like a man addicted to funerals, was there to watch the wrecking ball swing. Besides his law practive and real-estate business, Porter owns and operates the National Register-listed Tucker House Bed & Breakfast in Jeffersontown with his wife Devona. 54-59 PORTER.indd 57 2/19/14 9:46 AM

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