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Louisville preservation committee denies Collegiate’s proposal to tear down Yorktown Apartments

Exterior view of the Yorktown Apartments, which is a red brick building with brown balconies.
Jacob Munoz
The Louisville Collegiate School was denied permission to demolish the Yorktown Apartments, which it owns.

The Cherokee Triangle Architectural Review Committee voted late Wednesday to reject a controversial proposal by the Louisville Collegiate School to demolish the Yorktown Apartments.

In a 3-2 vote, committee members said the apartments are historically significant to the area. They offer affordable rental units in the Cherokee Triangle neighborhood, which has some of the most expensive properties in the city.

Collegiate bought the three buildings in 2015. School representatives say leadership wants to build a campus parking lot in the apartments’ place to relieve vehicle congestion and improve nearby street safety.

Since November, they’ve sought permission from the review committee to tear down the units because the neighborhood is in one of several city preservation districts, which require committee approval before altering a building’s exterior.

But the prestigious private school’s plan has also drawn backlash from some Yorktown residents and the Louisville Tenants Union, and created a rift among community members.

Ashlyn Ackerman, a member of the preservation committee, said the group could permit tearing down the apartments in the future if Collegiate submits a different plan they’re willing to approve.

“Just because this is labeled a contributing structure doesn't preclude us in the future of considering a higher and better use for this property,” Ackerman said.

Earlier in Wednesday’s meeting, committee members heard a report written by members of the city’s Historic Landmarks and Preservation Districts Commission.

The report, presented by Planning and Design coordinator Bradley Fister, said the apartments were built around 1960 and recommended the committee allow Collegiate to destroy them, stating “the demolition will not adversely affect the District’s distinctive characteristics or importance as a developed neighborhood.”

But contentious public comment followed . Most speakers opposed the plan, including local attorney Steve Porter, who argued the buildings should be considered significant.

Others talked about concerns beyond architecture, including the effectiveness of a parking lot in reducing congestion and the removal of rental units that cost less than the area’s average.

The Louisville Collegiate School is looking to build a parking lot where the Yorktown Apartments currently stand in a bid to reduce traffic and street congestion.
Jacob Munoz
The Louisville Collegiate School wants to build a parking lot where the Yorktown Apartments currently stand in a bid to reduce traffic and street congestion.

Evan Bradley, a Yorktown tenant, said at the meeting he depended on the apartments to be able to live in the neighborhood. Collegiate has told him and the other remaining residents to move out by the end of March.

“I hope there is a deadline extension, you know, not just so that I have more time to make arrangements and move out, but for the other people here.” he said in an interview Thursday.

Bradley is part of the Louisville Tenants Union, a group that has demanded but not received a meeting from Collegiate that would include union members and Yorktown residents.

Democratic state Sen. Cassie Chambers Armstrong, who represents the neighborhood, said in an interview Thursday she and the Coalition for the Homeless met with school leadership to advocate for the tenants. She said Collegiate agreed to several actions, including providing residents their security deposits.

“We have gone unit by unit through what folks know about the status of any given person and what supports they might need,” Chambers Armstrong said.

Tenants Union organizer Josh Poe argued in an interview Thursday most of the agreements were not properly handled to sufficiently help residents.

Collegiate said in a statement Thursday it “is evaluating the next steps in Metro Louisville’s ARC hearing process. The school will continue to work with the remaining tenants of Yorktown Apartments with the help they need to secure alternate housing,” and added that the move-out deadline remains March 31.

This story has been updated to clarify Josh Poe's role.

Jacob is LPM's Business and Development Reporter. Email Jacob at jmunoz@lpm.org.

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