Sunday, January 20, 2008

Blight Update

In the three weeks since I posted on some condemned Salemtown shacks that were standing open for any kind of illegal activity, they were boarded up and then demolished. All that stands in their place now is a vacant lot.

But it is not clear what owner Billy Easterling intends to build. The word from a nearby property owner is that Mr. Easterling told him that he intends to go through the rezoning process so that he can build a structure for his law offices (it is currently zoned R6 for residential). The problem with that rumored intention is that rezoning commercially may open the property, which is in the middle of a residential street, to other less attractive businesses (like a car wash?).

We need to keep tabs on the Planning process and oppose any rezoning request that adversely affects the residential quality of life of the street or increases vehicular traffic on already busy 5th Avenue. Mr. Easterling's intention might be none other than a law office, but that does not guarantee that if he sold it it would remain a law office.


  1. It would be tragic if the lot one day turned into a car wash. But it is very unlikely that it would with it's size and location.
    There are a handful of us in the neighborhood who do not have a problem with the re-zoning. And actually welcome the law office. Many moved into the neighborhood seeking a mixed-use lifestyle. A common reason for moving to the area was to be able to walk right outside your door and have almost everything at your finger tips. A law office here, a restaurant here, maybe even a bookstore there.
    It will not be surprising if the neighborhood association will have more than one opinion about the whole situation.

  2. If there was just a "law office" zoning then you would be right. But as far as know there is no such exclusive zoning. There are general commercial zonings that would allow different options not limited to any one type.

    So what about a laundry-mat? Or a liquor store? And there is a tiny do-it-yourself car wash over where Jefferson crosses I-65 that looks like it might fit on this property. Would that be okay with you?

    As far as having a mixed-use, walkable neighborhood goes, you're preaching to the choir. I've advocated those things and even wrote a letter to the Metro Council on behalf of one developer who wanted to build mixed-use. So, I don't require a sermon on mixed-use. The problem is though that someone can tell you that they are going to build a law office without any guarantees that it will end up being a law office.

    You go ahead and support this rezoning w/o question. But I'm not going to blindly support anything until I see what the zoning request would allow, worst case scenario. If it is something that threatens our residential quality of life, I look forward to debating this with you if it comes up at the association meeting, if you show up and ID yourself, anonymous.

  3. There's one more thing I want to point out about anonymous's implicit trust in this particular property owner: it is unwarranted, so far.

    The owner has held the property for something close to a year while only recently demolishing, keeping piles of trash in the backyard and allowing brush and grass to overgrow. Then he left the shacks unboarded for what was reportedly several months, allowing the chance of vagrancy or drug deals. They only got boarded after some of us in the association complained.

    So, what conclusions should we draw about whether he is interested in enhancing the quality of life in Salemtown? If he didn't care to tend to his shacks before then why should we trust that he will build something of quality now? It sounds like wishful thinking to me.