Metro council overturns disputed landmark status

By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer

Catholic Charities plans to raze the former Holy Name School, right, and convent, left, to make way for new headquarters. (Record Photo by Marnie McAllister)

The Louisville Metro Council has overturned a decision by the Louisville Landmarks Commission that classified several buildings on Holy Name Church’s campus as landmarks.

The 19-4 decision made Dec. 12 means that Catholic Charities of Louisville’s planned demolition and construction of a new headquarters on part of Holy Name’s campus can move forward.

Catholic Charities’ chief executive officer Lisa DeJaco Crutcher said she was relieved by the decision of the Metro Council.

The landmark designation came about in September after Catholic Charities of Louisville announced plans to demolish three buildings to make way for its new headquarters on South Fourth Street. The agency currently occupies one of the buildings it plans to raze; the other two are vacant.

Though the decision by the Metro Council is encouraging, DeJaco Crutcher said, there’s still a chance the project will be held up again. There is a 30 day period before the Metro Council approval becomes final and Catholic Charities may proceed with demolition. Petitioners can halt the process if they decide to file a lawsuit within that period.

“I’m prayerful that the petitioners will let this go so we can stay here,” she said in an interview Dec. 16. “I think this is the right place for us to be. I think it’s the right thing for Catholic Charities, for the neighborhood and for the clients we serve. I really hope and pray that we will be able to stay.”

DeJaco Crutcher said she feels Catholic Charities’ position is “very strong” but any further petition will add additional delay.
“If there is additional delay, I don’t know what that will mean for our project,” she said, noting that the agency’s outdated office space is very cold right now.

“With our current schedule, it will allow for the building to be constructed in one year and we would only have one more winter in this building. I’m not going to ask my staff to spend any longer than that in this building. People should not have to work like this,” she said.

Last winter, the temperature inside the offices at Catholic Charities’ Fourth Street location reached 39 degrees, she said. Employees and clients routinely wear coats and gloves indoors. All the while, an outdated heating system is attempting to warm the space, she said.

Earlier this year, Catholic Charities announced plans to construct a more efficient headquarters. The planned 31,000-square-foot building would require the demolition of the old convent, school building and school gym. Holy Name Church, 2914 S. Third Street, would remain untouched.

The proposal, DeJaco Crutcher said, would save Catholic Charities money in the long run and enable its staff to better serve people in need.

In September, the Louisville Landmarks Commission voted to designate four buildings on the campus of Holy Name as landmarks, including the old convent and school.

In the last meeting of the year for the Louisville Metro Planning and Zoning department, several committee members called for a resolution overturning the Landmarks Commission decision.

Councilmember Kevin Triplett (D-15) said he believes the Landmarks Commission decision was “erroneous” because the buildings have long been forgotten and that the Commission did not consider the “economic hardship” of the owner.

If no suits are filed in 30 days, Catholic Charities will move ahead with its construction plans immediately, said DeJaco Crutcher.

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