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Memorial held for South Dubuque Cottages

BY CORY PORTER | DECEMBER 15, 2014 5:00 AM

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A crowd of people gathered in front of the Moy Yat Ving Tsun Kung Fu Academy, 614 S. Dubuque St., on Dec. 13 to memorialize the building, along with two other cottages that may soon be demolished.

Roughly 25 to 30 were there holding signs that read “Support Neighborhoods” and “Vote for Preservation” after the City Council voted 4-3 against a public hearing concerning the historical status of the cottages, which would have put a 60-day hold on demolitions.

Alicia Trimble, the executive director of Friends of Historic Preservation, said the service on Dec. 13 was a way for people to share their memories of the cottages and hopes for what will happen in the future.

“Everyone took an opportunity to talk about their feelings on the issue [and] what they didn’t think the City Council was taking into effect,” Trimble said.

At the memorial, she spoke of recent changes, which included the removal of electric and water meters and shrubberies and trees. Trimble said she took these acts to signify an imminent demolition.

City Councilor Michelle Payne, who voted against the public hearing, said it had more to do with the process than the question of the cottages’ historical value.

“My vote was no, because I feel like they were trying to circumvent the process,” Payne said.

Any future votes on the issue would not be tied to previous votes, she said, but instead what new evidence she hears at any future meetings.

“Everybody will still pay attention regardless of how they voted last time,” she said. “That doesn’t mean I’ll vote the same way the next time, nor does it mean I won’t vote the same way the next time; you have to listen to a different set of facts.”

Following the council’s special meeting Dec. 9, the Historic Preservation Commission voted unanimously during its Dec. 11 meeting that the cottages were historically significant.

The next step of the process falls to the Planning and Zoning Commission, which will vote on the matter at its next meeting.

Trimble said she anticipates the vote to be in favor of the cottages’ historical status.

“We fully expect a unanimous vote on that,” she said.

If the Planning and Zoning Commission does vote in favor of the cottages’ historical status, the issue will return to the City Council, at which point the councilors will most likely call for a public hearing.

At that point, a 60-day moratorium would be put into effect.

Will Ingles, the owner of the Book Shop, another cottage business, said the situation is currently in flux and it’s anyone’s guess about what will happen next.

“It’s hour to hour, day to day,” Ingles said. “If you asked everybody concerned, from the city to the developer to the opposing attorneys to the property owner to the tenants, nobody knows exactly what’s going to happen, or when, or if.”

He said that if his cottage, which he has rented since 1986, is demolished, his prospect of finding another space is slim.

“There’s no place that’s anywhere near affordable, this is both my workplace and my home, and I can’t afford even one of those things to replace what I have here,” he said. “There’s no place where the rent is reasonable enough to open a store, let alone a home.”

He fears that if the cottages are demolished, that will lead to the entire block’s stores being demolished to make way for new development by Hodge Construction.

“This is the keystone or the linchpin to the destruction of the whole block,” Ingles said. “If it comes down, I fear the war is lost.”


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