Cleveland council divided over destruction of 100-year-old landmark

MainStreet Cleveland has expressed interest in revitalizing the Moore Building, located in the Five Points area of Cleveland's historic downtown. The city has agreed to delay plans to demolish the building, the site of which has been proposed for use as a parking lot.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. - The demolition of the landmark Moore Building, located within Cleveland's historic Five Points area, has been put on hold while Mainstreet Cleveland seeks funding to redevelop the structure.

In November, a narrowly divided Cleveland City Council voted 3-2 to buy the Inman Street property for $100,000 from businessman Ben Moore, announcing intentions to tear down the 100-year-old building - described by Councilman Richard Banks as an "eyesore" - and turn the site into a parking lot.

On Feb. 8, the Cleveland City Council voted 6-0 to give Mainstreet Cleveland 90 days to pursue grant options for revitalizing the structure. Banks abstained from the vote, citing friendship with the Moore family and their understanding that the city would replace the building with a parking lot commemorating Joe Moore, Ben Moore's father.

"We just need a little time," said Sharon Marr, executive director of Mainstreet Cleveland. "We have some great ideas for that property, and it will be a win-win if it is saved."

The organization is seeking a $50,000 grant opportunity for a public/private partnership and expects to have more information in March.

"As the eastern gateway to downtown, this location is an important portal to our historic commercial district," Marr said in a Feb. 1 letter to the Cleveland City Council, citing the charm of the building's architecture and ornamental brickwork. "We believe that we might find a solution that is in the best interest of the community and future generations."

Marr also addressed City Council concerns for the need for more downtown parking space, suggesting that part of the property could be converted to parking space by demolishing the one-story portion of the building, located at the rear of the site, and letting the main two-story portion remain.

Such a move would create nine parking spaces, while demolishing the entire structure would create only 16 spaces in all, she said.

"We are confident that removal of the larger structure is not worth the additional seven spaces," Marr said.

Banks voiced the need for more downtown parking space during the City Council's Nov. 23 meeting.

"Most cities our size have parking garages and anytime we can acquire property that can be used for parking, it is a wise purchase," said Banks, who cast one of the three votes supporting the purchase, according to meeting minutes.

At the time of the Nov. 23 vote, Banks declared he was a friend of the Moore family, but there was no conflict with the purchase.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at [email protected]