City Council to Introduce Ordinance to Make Union St. a “Historical District”

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City Council Member Chris Fahl is expected to introduce an ordinance that would classify Union Street as a local “historic district.”

The ordinance would help preserve the buildings on Union Street damaged by a November, 2014 fire that damaged or destroyed student apartments and five  businesses. It would also help building owners with reconstruction.

By definition in the Code of Ordinances, a historic district is considered, “a grouping of structures as determined by the board and approved by council as an historically or architecturally significant group and located within the limits of the City of Athens. Buildings or structures within this group may or may not be individually so dedicated. Listings of said structures will be kept for public record by city council and available through the planning office.”

According to the Council agenda, the ordinance was scheduled for a first-reading on Monday. However, due to the weather, the meeting was canceled.

Reaction from Union Street

Art Oestrike, President of Jackie O’s, said making Union Street an “historic district” is a good idea.

“I believe that the Union Street buildings that were affected by the fire should all be historic landmarks,” he said. “They’ve all been there for, I believe, 100-plus years. Some buildings may be a bit newer, but that area has been doing commerce for over 100 years.”

Oestrike said he would like to see things get back to normal for Jackie O’s. This includes putting a roof back on The Union.

“Without a roof on top of The Union, we don’t have that kitchen that services the Public House,” Oestrike said. “The sooner that can happen the better. I mean the fire was three-months ago I think today and it would be nice to see a roof back on top of that building so we can get back to, again, normal business operations.”

For Oestrike, the ordinance is a step in the right direction towards rebuilding the buildings, businesses, and the area.

“If this going through allows for the buildings to start getting put back together sooner, I’m all for it,” he said. “We haven’t seen much action on Union Street since the fire. We want that sidewalk back open. We want all these different things so we can get back to normal business operations.”

City Council’s next meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 2.