A construction crew was onsite this morning at the Bauer property, beginning demolition of what was last Azalea Restaurant. (Click to see full size.)

Demolition started this morning on the Bauer Tavern building, which began life in the 1850s as a blacksmith and wagon repair shop.

The building had been part of a decade-long tussle between preservationists and developers, a stalemate that ended March 27 after the Individual Landmarks Architectural Review Committee OKed a redevelopment plan.

Today, crews were using a hydraulic excavator to demolish almost all the structure, beginning with the rear of the building at Brownsboro Road and Mockingbird Gardens in East Louisville.

Demolition work is expected to be finished quickly. However, per terms of the final agreement in that March 27 Landmarks Commission ruling, the developer must leave studs from the north and east walls of Bauer’s Tavern, which will be incorporated into the foundation of the northeast corner of a planned new doctor’s office.

The second design approved March 27.

Talbott & Roberts partner Bill Bardenwerper, who represents property owners from the Bauer family, said there are still multiple steps before construction can begin, including leases and getting construction plans approved by the Metro Development Review Committee.

Bardenwerper estimated new construction is unlikely to start “until summer … July, maybe.”

The fate of the building was decided amid a flurry of activity last month.

In February, Insider Louisville reported that a proposal called for essentially cloning the original Bauer clapboard design and building footprint in a new structure slated to become a doctor’s office.

The first design that we first saw last February.

Just east of the original building, Cunningham Restaurant Group based in Indianapolis is planning to build a Mesh restaurant.

Then, on the day of the Landmark Commission’s final Architectural Review Committee ruling on whether the old building could be torn down, a completely new design was introduced and adopted.

The final approved proposal still includes two structures – the medical offices and the restaurant.

However, new designs by Louisville architect Tim Winters have significant changes.

The original hypermodern Mesh design now is more pseudo-Colonial with pilasters.

The Bauer building as it appeared when it housed Azalea restaurant.

The replacement for the Bauer building appears to be more similar to the likely Reconstruction-era design.

The restaurant building would be about 7,500 square feet, with the medical office at 5,300 square feet.

The entire Bauer property was designated a local landmark in 2008.

An exception was approved by the Landmarks Commission in 2010 that approved the construction of a Rite Aid drugstore on the property. That exception also allowed for the demolition of some of the Bauer’s Tavern structure – that was an addition – to make way for a planned restaurant that never happened.

Multiple sources told Insider Louisville the original Bauer building, which had been Azalea Restaurant until 1999, was too deteriorated to refurbish after years of neglect.