Demolition guidelines addressed at downtown design meeting

Demolition guidelines addressed at downtown design meeting

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"It really doesn't do much to remove blight influences that vacant lots have in urban areas. That's a big component, but it's also a big stumbling block on how to implement that right now," said Mike Reynolds, Downtown Design Review board member. "It really doesn't do much to remove blight influences that vacant lots have in urban areas. That's a big component, but it's also a big stumbling block on how to implement that right now," said Mike Reynolds, Downtown Design Review board member.
Attorneys for Pryor Brown on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against city council because the body did not vote on the appeal. Attorneys for Pryor Brown on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against city council because the body did not vote on the appeal.
"I think the Walnut Street buildings and the Pryor Brown Garage woke everyone up," said Kim Trent, executive director of Knox Heritage. "I think the Walnut Street buildings and the Pryor Brown Garage woke everyone up," said Kim Trent, executive director of Knox Heritage.

By MIKE KRAFCIK
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Breathing new life into downtown Knoxville also means a balancing act - since it's home to so much history. 

Sometimes those two ideas can leave people at odds over what's best for a project or a piece of property.   

On Wednesday, the Downtown Design Review Board met to consider an amendment that addresses the demolition of buildings.  

The proposed language would mandate that owners who demolish buildings should ensure that the remaining site is covered with vegetation and that fencing should be installed around vacant lots, including decorative fencing along sidewalks. 

"It really doesn't do much to remove blight influences that vacant lots have in urban areas. That's a big component, but it's also a big stumbling block on how to implement that right now," said Mike Reynolds, Downtown Design Review board member.  

Reynolds says issues were discussed at the meeting because he believes the board's role in the demolition process is vague and needs clarification.  

A decision by St. John's Cathedral to demolish two buildings in the fall on Walnut Street sparked controversy.

Recently, the owners of the Pryor Brown Garage wanted to demolish that building and create surface parking until they could develop the site, but the Metropolitan Planning Commission denied a necessary rezoning request.

Attorneys for Pryor Brown on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against city council because the body did not vote on the appeal.  

"I think the Walnut Street buildings and the Pryor Brown Garage woke everyone up," said Kim Trent, executive director of Knox Heritage.  

The review board also considered eliminating "certificates of appropriateness" it issues for demolition requests.

The city law department told board members those certificates had no legal authority.  Final authority for demolition permits is with the planning commission and city council.   Members also discussed the possibility of prolonging the demolition permit process.    

"Often we can meet with property owners and offer alternative solutions that meet their needs and so we're happy to have extend period of time to have that discussion," Trent said.

Any amendments would be adopted by a vote during the design review board's meeting next Wednesday.

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