Below is a statement outlining their opposition.
Main Street Historic District Residents and Neighbors
Citizens to Save the TN Brewery and South Main Historic District
October 29, 2006
From the time of the initial South Bluffs neighborhood meeting on August 15th (when the consensus was that out-of-town developers would likely be held accountable to applicable zoning regulations), to the current date, the Brewery development project has moved ahead at an alarming pace. It is now upon us, literally!
As you have probably heard by now, a Detroit developer and his Nashville partner have requested a variance to several zoning codes so that they can construct a 14 story, ~140 unit condominium building enveloping the historic Tennessee brewery building (495 Tennessee Street). Concerns include:
1. the esthetics of the proposed building are not consistent with the standards that have thus far been maintained in the Historic South Main district
2. its height and mass will completely overwhelm the Brewery building, whether viewed from Tennessee Street (e.g., by neighbors and tourists on the Trolley), the River Walk, Tom Lee Park, Butler Park or from South Bluffs,
3. its height will cast too great of a shadow on homes to the north,
4. the density will create traffic problems that have not been addressed and
5. the proposed construction will destroy the character of the neighborhood. The people living in these 140 condos will be looking in the back windows of many houses in South Bluffs, not to mention the added traffic created by their requested density variance.
To date, the developer has requested and received initial approval from the Land Use Control Board (LUCB) for a code variance that would allow them to exceed the 9 story maximum height code in our South Main Historic District neighborhood, and they have requested a variance to exceed the 100 linear frontage restriction on Tennessee Street, so that they can extend the parking deck farther to the north, contiguous with the entrance to Butler park.
We and several others, including the Memphis Heritage Foundation, expressed our concerns to the LUCB, but they approved the variances based on staff recommendations, whose report failed to even mention the listing of the Brewery on the National Registry of Historic Places. We have engaged a local attorney (Mr. Robert Spence, former City Attorney) to advise and assist us in this matter, and he has filed an official appeal to the LUCB related to their decision to approve (with conditions), the height variance and frontage restrictions. Several others also spoke in opposition at the LUCB hearing, but we do now know how many also filed an appeal. However, our collective views in opposition to this proposed project can be voiced via the appeal Mr. Spence has filed. He is also now researching all relevant state, local and federal laws that will be important in our efforts to see that this project is done properly and in a manner consistent with the neighborhood.
As you may have read in the October 28 Commercial Appeal, the Board of Adjustment denied the developers’ request for a density variance (that the proposed project would substantially exceed), but they will likely appeal this decision and need only increase the number of supporting votes from 4 to 5 to gain approval. So the time to act is NOW.
If this project is to go forward in a way that is consistent with our South Main Historic District, it is critical that the residents of this area register their opposition to the current plans. It appears that the primary driver for enforcement of the applicable zoning rules and federal requirements for preservation of a National Registry of Historic Places building is that the neighbors register their objection.
Please drop us a note, call, or email to let us know how you feel. It is likely that we will need to present a note to the City Council to let them know how many residents oppose the development in its current form, in order to be sure that applicable zoning rules are enforced.
Mary Relling and Bill Evans