Plans to build a boutique hotel in Dinkytown hit a bump in the road when permission to tear down three buildings to make way for the new construction fell short of what the developer has said he needs to make room for the project.
Instead, two of the properties were approved for demolition while a study of possible historic significance was ordered for the third building by members of the City Council Zoning and Planning committee. The study could take could take at least four months.
Developer Kelly Doran left the meeting saying “no comment at this time.” The full City Council will consider the matter February 21.
The question before the committee was not about the planned hotel but was instead focused on the possible historic significance of the three buildings. Earlier the Historical Preservation Commission denied Doran’s application for demolition, citing the properties as “historic resources.”
A study of the historic significance of the single-story building at 1319 4th St. SE would go beyond what is known about the structure, which was built in 1921 when Dinkytown was flourishing. The building is currently home to the Camdi Restaurant and Mesa Pizza.
“Looking at these three properties it is clear that the one that has the nature of an historic resource is 1319,” said Council President Barb Johnson, who singled out that structure for further study and moved to deny the application to tear it down. “One-story buildings were the way that neighborhood developed," she said.
John Meyers, the owner of the property at 1319, disagreed with Johnson about this possible historic status of his building, saying “every part of that building has been disassembled.”
“It’s not the building that’s bringing people there, it’s the university, it’s the events, it’s the activities,” said Meyers. “We’re not taking that away.”
“Dinkytown is a very small district and it will not take too many tear downs of key sites to alter the character of the district,” said Kristen Eide Tollafson, owner of The Book House who has been doing business in Dinkytown for 37 years. “Dinkytown would cease to function as a character district and would instead be a retail location with a few isolated old buildings.”
“There are absolutely no facts that indicate that any of these properties have any particular significance. They are not historic resources, “ said Anne Behrendt, an attorney for Doran Development, in her presentation to the committee.
“I think what everyone agrees on is that Dinkytown is unique and there is an energy worth preserving,” said Behrendt. “What the disagreement is about is how you achieve that.”
“Dinkytown’s older character is going to be increasingly important,” said Cordelia Pierson, who is president of the Marcy Holmes Neighborhood Association; it is currently working on planning guidelines for the commercial district. “Without this historic designation Dinkytown will definitely decline.”
Doran has plans for a six-story hotel on the site of the the three buildings.