City Council votes against landmark designation for Dubuque Street cottages


The Iowa City City Council voted 4-3 on Monday against giving the Dubuque Street cottages local historic-landmark status.

“These cottages are worthy of preservation, but I don’t think forcing preservation under these circumstances is the right thing to do in this situation,” said Iowa City Mayor Matt Hayek.

Cottage property owner Ted Pacha said he wants to be able to do what he wants with his property.

“I’m tired of coming to these meetings and getting beat up over this,” Pacha said during the public hearing. He declined further comment after the meeting.

Hayek said for both Pacha and the Friends of Historic Preservation, the process has been unfortunate.

Councilors Rick Dobyns, Jim Throgmorton, and Kingsley Botchway voted in favor of preservation, with Councilors Michelle Payne, Terry Dickens, and Susan Mims opposed, along with Hayek.

Throgmorton noted that the property owners do not decide if structures on their property are historic landmarks.

Instead, he said, that responsibility should fall to the City Council.

“Our shared lives are going to be worse if we don’t invent a mutually satisfactory solution for problems like this,” Throgmorton said.

The cottages are located on the 600 block of South Dubuque Street. Built in the mid-19th century as working-class housing, in more recent years, they have been home to several local businesses.

The cottage located at 614 S. Dubuque St. was torn down late on Dec. 25, 2014 or early on Dec. 26.

Alicia Trimble, the director of the Friends of Historic Preservation, said the council would set a dangerous precedent by voting against the historic-landmark designation.

“By voting against historic-landmark status, you are voting against the people of Iowa City who spent a lot of time coming up with the Riverfront Crossing plan,” she said.

Kirsten Frei, an attorney for Pacha, suggested that the Friends of Historic Preservation seek out properties earlier that could be eligible for historic preservation.

“Friends of Historic Preservation could be actively seeking out properties that they believe have historic value instead of waiting for property owners, like Ted, to make changes to their property to act and speak up,” Frei said.

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