Amid calls for Dinkytown to be historically designated, the city's heritage preservation commission voted Tuesday to block demolition of two commercial buildings that were needed to make way for a hotel.
The final decision will almost inevitably fall to the City Council, which hears appeals of commission votes. At issue is a six-story boutique hotel that developer Kelly Doran has proposed building on 4th Street SE between 13th and 14th Avenues SE.
The commission voted to deny demolition of 1319 4th Street SE and 1315 4th Street SE, despite staff recommendations for approval. Those properties currently house Camdi Vietnamese restaurant, Mesa Pizza, Dinkytown Tattoo, Publika coffee shop and the University LifeCare Center
Several commission members said while the buildings themselves are fairly mundane, they may contribute to a historically significant district. Dinkytown has not been designated as a historic district, but neighbors are pushing for such protections.
“I’m concerned about us looking at the buildings one at a time," said commission member Sue Hunter Weir. "I know we do that, but we’ve run into this problem before….You start chipping away at buildings, then you destroy the context, and then that becomes the reason for more demolitions. You say, 'There is no context, because everything they contributed is gone.'”
Supporters of demolition said that people, rather than buildings, make Dinkytown historic.
“What makes it historical is the things that have transpired in the area, but not the buildings," said Mike Mulrooney, owner of the nearby Blarney Pub.
As with many areas of the city, parking was also a concern of project opponents. The hotel proposal includes one level of underground parking.
"We are concerned that the proposed development exacerbates a parking problem for the neighbors of the development, namely our congregation and those who work and worship with us," said Pastor Douglas Donley of University Baptist Church.
Here are the buildings in question: