Monday, February 11, 2008

The Future of the Former Charlotte Ave Church of Christ

For those of you that missed the first DCDP meeting back in late January - part of the reason it was so crowded was because two bus loads of people representing the former congregation of the Charlotte Avenue Church of Christ were present. The congregation was under the impression that the DCDP meeting was in fact a meeting to specifically discuss the future of their property located at 4508 Charlotte Avenue. The MPC reminded the persistent congregation on numerous occasions that the meeting was not for that issue and there would be no discussions related to the matter.

So what is happening with that church you might ask? There has been a lot of buzz around the neighborhood on just what the future holds for that prominent corner of Charlotte. Here it is in a (rather big) nutshell:

• Currently, the congregation has a deal with the developer Newton Oldacre McDonald (NOM) to completely demolish the church and adjoining property and replace it with a suburban style Rite Aid Pharmacy.

• The reason this hasn't happened yet is because when the church filed the permit for demolition back in October of '07, a flag went up alerting the Metro Historical Zoning Commission that this property was potentially eligible to be on the National Historic Register. When this flag goes up, there is an automatic 90 day waiting period on demo permits.

• In light of the flag going up, Councilman Holleman (District 24) filed a bill in the Metro Council that would deem the property as a National Historic Landmark and protect it from demolition (another 90 day period) in the hopes that a developer would come forward and offer a plan that would preserve the structure. During this time two potential developers (other than NOM) offered plans that would preserve the church with an adaptive re-use. Their offers to the church have been of market value, but unfortunately have been turned down in lieu of Rite Aid offering approximately 15-20% more in an effort to out-bid other developers.

• The bill has passed its first reading. Today a public hearing was held by the MHZC to hear public opinion on the matter. Both sides were represented and had opportunities to share their positions. The MHZC responsibility is strictly to determine whether or not the building in question is or isn't a historically significant building that is eligible for a historic overlay. This is a very black and white decision- and ultimately - public opinion does little to sway this resolution. Needless to say, the MHZC recommended that this building be considered for the Historic Overlay. The matter now moves to the Metro Planning Commission which is holding a public hearing of their own on Feb. 28th. Stay tuned for more on this later.

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