Azalea restaurant, formerly Bauer’s 1870 Tavern. (Photo by Broken Sidewalk)

Neighbors in the Mockingbird Gardens neighborhood are on alert as plans unfold to redevelop the Bauer property and the former Azalea restaurant.

Front and center in a potential showdown is whether developers ultimately will get permission to tear down the vacant Azalea building, which had its beginnings as a blacksmith and wagon repair stop in 1868.

Residents sent Insider Louisville a copy of an email stating concerns about property owner Charles Bauer’s plans to replace the building with a medical building.

(The property is on Brownsboro Road at Mockingbird Gardens Drive, just east of the Crescent Hill Golf Course.)

The plan also includes a new restaurant developed by Cunningham Restaurant Group, based in Indianapolis, a story we broke last week. Finally, the former Dolls Market building is slated to be redeveloped into a Sutherland’s Hardware and Mercantile store in a separate deal.

Association concerns include plans to widen an access road called “Bauer Road” from the interior of the neighborhood to the construction/renovation site and the ultimate fate of the Azalea Building. The email cites a letter of agreement between Bauer and Mockingbird Gardens Homeowners Association negotiated in March, 2010.

Neighborhood association members contend the agreement spells out association control of the access road, referred to as “Bauer Road,” and the landscape easement. It also gives the association say in any changes to the historic building, according to the email.

The letter does not state residents oppose redevelopment outright:

The Association has always been supported for any viable commercial business to be located on the Bauer Property as long as the structures have the appropriate appearance for our entrance. This will be our continued goal.

The developer has already stated to Louisville Metro Planning & Design Services that the Bauer’s building/Azalea will be torn down and a planned, but never built Rite-Aid pharmacy will be replaced in a new plan by a 7,500-square-foot restaurant and a 5,300-square-foot medical office.

Click to enlarge.

According to the letter (included here), the developers find “it impossible to reutilize the existing cellar or any of the existing structural elements of the seriously dilapidated old restaurant building.”

Michael Tigue, attorney for the Mockingbird Gardens Homeowners Association, said his clients’ position is that any new construction or renovation will have to be executed “with respect for the historical significance of the property.”

The association wants to ensure new plans comply with the letter of agreement between the neighborhood association and Bauer, said Tigue, who practices at Middleton Reutlinger in Louisville.

Any new construction would have to pay homage to the historical nature of the site as well as compliment the surrounding neighborhood, he said.

“We’re not willing to compromise the historical significance of the property for just any old thing.”

Tigue acknowledged that Vadim Kaplan with Studio A Architecture is architect for the new project, “and we know he’s capable of doing that level of work, so we’ll wait to see his plans.”

Tigue added that residents are opposed to widening “Bauer Road” to allow large delivery trucks or work trucks accessing the construction site or the new business through the neighborhood itself.

Bardenwerper, Talbott & Roberts partner Bill Bardenwerper, who represents Bauer, said in regard to the road, he believe residents are mistaking a slight change to the curvature of the road as a widening. On the major parts of the new plan, Bardenwerper said, the neighbors will get what they have long said they wanted, and that includes eliminating the Rite-Aid.

Plans for the physicians office that will replace the Azalea building “call for keeping the look” of the original building, he said.

Bardenwerper referred to the fact the Landmarks Commission has already approved significant changes to Bauer property including the Azalea building.

In May 2010, the commission’s architectural review committee green-lighted the demolition of the newer additions in the back and a total re-skinning of the entire exterior as part of the proposed development of a new restaurant, which never happened.

At the same time, the commission also approved the construction of a 14,000-square-foot Rite Aid Pharmacy behind it. Which also never happened.

Elevation plans are scheduled to be completed in time for a Architecture Review Committee meeting of the Landmarks Commission scheduled for Wed., Feb. 27.

“(Neighbors) hated the Rite Aid,” Bardenwerper said. “We’re getting rid of that thing they don’t want. They should be pinning a medal on this guy’s chest!’

Click to see full size.

Here is the email from the Mockingbird Gardens Homeowners Association in full: 

Charles Bauer has submitted a new development plan for the Bauer Property to Metro Zoning and Planning. His new proposal was recorded Friday January 25, 2013.

The proposal indicates a restaurant to be located in the green space between Mockingbird Gardens Drive and the existing patio. Plus a new structure to be located on the footprint of the old Bauer Restaurant Building.

He has asked for a permit to demolish the old building. This building and the complete property has Historical Landmark Status.

The proposal infringes on Mockingbird Gardens deeded landscape easements and shows the “Bauer Road” being configured and widened to allow large trucks to enter and leave via Mockingbird Gardens Drive. These items are deal breakers to Mockingbird Gardens.

Through our Attorney, Michael Tigue, we have sent a letter with a marked up drawing to all the parties calling attention to items that we oppose.

Tigue also included the side letter of agreement between Charles Bauer and Mockingbird Gardens Homeowners Association that was negotiated in March 2010. This agreement spells out our control of the Bauer Road and the landscape easement. It also gives us the say in any changes to the old building.

The Association has always been supported for any viable commercial business to be located on the Bauer Property as long as the structures have the appropriate appearance for our entrance. This will be our continued goal.

We will continue to keep you updated.