Fate of the Hard Rock Cafe on McKinney Ave.

On Wednesday, I met with residents who were concerned about the fate of the Hard Rock Cafe on McKinney Ave. Elvis has left the building, so to speak, and the Hard Rock is closing. What does that mean for the 100 year-old building it occupied?

The new owner, Brett Landes, attended the meeting as well, and dispelled rumors that he was going to scrape the building to put in a CVS. (I think the rumors got started because Landes owns many CVS stores.)

Landes explained that he wants to put in a jazz club/restaurant in the current building, and isn’t planning on tearing it down. He has done previous historic restoration projects, and promised to do something that the neighborhood would be proud of.

However, unless the building had historic landmark protection, there is nothing to stop the owner from demolishing it.

The mood at the meeting Wednesday was that folks would like to preserve this important landmark that was home to the McKinney Avenue Baptist Church. Landmark status doesn’t mean the building would be frozen in time and couldn’t be expanded and renovated. It also doesn’t mean that the owner would have to take it back to how it looked in 1906 (when it was built). The ordinance protecting the building can be very developer-friendly and strike a balance between protecting and restoring the building to its pre-Hard Rock-schmuck days and allowing for renovation and expansion.

If you would like to see this building preserved, you need to attend the Landmark Commission meeting at 1pm on Monday in the City Council Chambers on the 6th Floor of City Hall, 1500 Marilla Street (between Ervay & Akard). You need to urge them to begin the historic designation process, which would have the effect of protecting the building immediately. There is parking underground at Akard and Young.

I appreciate the emails I’ve been getting in support of landmarking the building, but fact is, you don’t have to convince me. I think the building should be preserved. You need to convince the Landmark Commission. So attend the meeting on Monday if you want to preserve this building.