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Del Taco bill wins narrow approval from Board of Aldermen

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)
Aldermen narrowly approved on Friday a redevelopment plan for the former Del Taco site on Grand Ave. Preservationists worry the bill is a precursor to the building's demolition.

A measure that local preservationists worry could lead to the demolition of the UFO-shaped former home of Del Taco on Grand Ave. is on its way to the mayor's desk.

"This board bill, I thought, was a very simple bill," said its sponsor, Ald. Marlene Davis. "For some reason, somehow, not only did the media take something and turn it into a story that was not true, this legislative body does not pass demolition bills. There's no such thing as that, it does not exist. It is impossible to even be done by this legislative body.  It is an incentive for the development that is taking place on that property."

To tear the building down, the developer, Rick Yackey, must first apply for a permit from the building department, which he had not done as of this afternoon. All demolition permits must be reviewed by the city's Cultural Resources Office, and last week, Davis agreed to add a second layer of review through the city's Preservation Board.

That added layer of review did not satisfy several aldermen, including Scott Ogilvie.

In an argument also made by several preservationists, Ogilvie pointed out that four years ago, Yackey included the Del Taco building in an historic district that helped him qualify for state tax credits.

"Now four years later, I find it hard to believe that that same property owner can come back and say, I was wrong, and now this is a blighted building that needs further incentives," Ogilvie said. "And I listened to him say three times in the committee hearing on this that he wanted to tear that building down. He wants to tear down a building that he placed on the National Register of Historic Places and received tax money for. That's not okay."

Yackey would not comment on his plans for the site.

The 15-9 vote, if it held, would not be enough to override a mayoral veto. Mayor Francis Slay had pledged to have his staff send any demolition permit to the Preservation Board, the extra step now included in the legislation. A spokeswoman says he has not decided what to do with the bill.

Aldermen voting yes: Troupe, Flowers, Bosley, Griffin, Young, Ortmann, Arnowitz, Roddy Kennedy, Davis, Schmid, Williamson, Krewson, Reed.

Aldermen voting no: Conway, Villa, Wessels, Howard, Florida, Baringer, Vaccaro, Ogilvie, Cohn.

Aldermen not voting: Moore, Triplett, Vollmer, French, Boyd. (Alds. Moore and French were absent from the entire meeting. Alds. Triplett, Vollmer and Boyd were absent for this specific vote.)

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