Vacant structures in a dilapidated, deteriorated, or unsafe condition have a major negative effect on the livability of a neighborhood. Louisville Metro regularly monitors all known vacant structures and identifies structures determined to be so old, dilapidated, or out of repair that they are dangerous, unsafe, unsanitary, or unfit for human habitation. The owners of these structures are first ordered to repair or to demolish the structure at their expense. In cases where the owner fails to repair or to demolish the structure or the owner is not able to be located, Louisville Metro is empowered to cause the structure to be demolished.
There are three types of demolitions initiated by Louisville Metro Government:
- Emergency Demolitions – Building is declared an imminent threat to health and safety and in danger of further collapse. These structures are referred by the Chief Building Inspector. There may be owner contact.
- Structural Demolitions – Building’s structural integrity is compromised but is not considered an emergency candidate. These structures do not have to meet the criteria of an administrative demo candidate. Referred by Property Maintenance Inspector.
- Administrative Demolitions – Building must be vacant for over a year, there has been no contact with the owner for over a year, and there are numerous code enforcement violations. Referred by Property Maintenance Inspector.
The costs of demolition of these structures become the responsibility of the owners with liens placed against such properties to ensure recovery of these costs.
The authority for Louisville Metro Government to order a structure demolished is established in the Louisville-Jefferson County Codified Ordinances, Chapter 156 Property Maintenance Code. The property owner(s), as required by law, is given ample notice and time to make necessary repairs of their building to prevent demolition from occurring. If they fail to make such repairs, the Demolition Division will initiate legal action for its removal. If the owners of the property appeal the order or obtain a restraining order from the Court, the demolition may be delayed or prevented. Prior to demolition, asbestos testing, asbestos abatement, historical review, or other environmental impact studies will be conducted. During and after the demolition of a privately owned structure, Louisville Metro Government has no ownership interest in the property.
Demolition candidates are prioritized based on the structural condition of the building and length of vacancy, in addition to the availability of budgeted funds. Additionally, each demolition action has to go through a process that includes notifying property owners, asbestos testing, asbestos abatement, and historic review. If a building is determined to be a contributing structure by the Historic Preservation Officer, the property may only be demolished if it is subsequently found to not be economically feasible for rehabilitation through a prescribed cost analysis that is reviewed and approved by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).
Contributing Structure: A building that is either located in a listed, or determined eligible National Register of Historic Places District. A contributing structure possesses the architectural characteristics that relate to the historic significance of the neighborhood, and were constructed during the period of significance for the district. In some cases, buildings are individually listed, or determined eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places which qualifies them as an historic structure. The term “contributing” is a federal-level designation that is referenced in Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 which requires an evaluation of impacts to contributing historic structures when federal monies are being utilized.
For information regarding these properties, contact the Office of Vacant & Public Property Administration at 502-574-4016.