NEW ALBANY — Community members that have gathered to save the Smith Farmhouse from demolition received good news when developers agreed to donate and relocate the house if their Planned Unit Development (PUD) request is approved by the New Albany City Council.
The council unanimously voted to approve two PUDs, including the one containing the farmhouse, for Hogan Real Estate for commercial development during its meeting Thursday evening.
Council member Scott Blair excused himself from the votes on both PUD ordinances because his company frequently works with Hogan Real Estate.
The PUD for the land containing the Smith Farmhouse, at 4401 Charlestown Road, received an unfavorable recommendation by the city’s plan commission last month, but after Hogan Real Estate’s agreement to move the farmhouse the council approved it.
The house will be donated to Indiana Landmarks, a historic preservation organization, and according to Hogan Real Estate’s development plans, the home will be relocated to the back of the 4501 Charlestown Road property, facing Lewis A. Endres Parkway.
The agreement between Hogan Real Estate and Indiana Landmarks also stated that the house will be placed on a brick foundation that matches the brick of the house, utility easement will be provided to Indiana Landmarks and a curb cut will be added to provide vehicular access to the home.
A petition was started in August to save the 160-year-old farmhouse, which is not a registered historic property, from demolition as proposed in the developers’ initial plan.
The house was sold in the 2000s to Northside Christian Church, with no written stipulations on what could happen with the property. The granddaughter of the last family who owned the house, Amanda Frey, said that though there was no written agreement, her grandparents trusted the church as caretakers of the home.
Northside has been partnering with HoganReal Estate to develop the property for about a year.
“I just wanted to say on behalf of the family we are in support, along with Indiana Landmarks, of Hogan,” Frey said at Thursday’s meeting, thanking the real estate company for reaching out with a solution.
Southern regional director for Indiana Landmarks, Greg Sekula, represented the organization in conversations with Hogan Real Estate regarding the house’s relocation. Sekula said that Indiana Landmarks is very pleased that the developers have listened to the concerns of the public and come up with a plan.
Sekula said that Mike Leonard, Hogan Real Estate’s chief operating officer, came to Indiana Landmarks after the plan commission meeting in October and outlined the proposed plan.
“Indiana Landmarks are supportive of this particular proposal that is outlined,” Sekula said, noting that it is a win-win for the community.
At the meeting, Floyd County Historian David Barksdale shared some background about why the house needed to be saved.
“This building is one of the last remaining farmhouses in the area that once was all farmland. It’s a tangible object that allows the story to be told of the Smith family and the story of early agriculture in New Albany,” Barksdale said.
Barksdale said that without the building the history would eventually be lost.
“I want to personally thank the Hogan Real Estate company and its team for listening to the concerns brought up at that plan commission meeting earlier this month,” he said.
Council member Josh Turner also thanked Hogan Real Estate, along with the community members who stood up for the house.
“Usually people just take, take, take as a developer. It’s nice to see a developer give back,” he said.
The second PUD that was approved for Hogan Real Estate was for land at 4501 Charlestown Road, where the house will be relocated.
Early proposed plans developed by Hogan Real Estate showed that the land at 4401 Charlestown Road could potentially be used for a Starbucks or other business with a drive-thru, as well as a bank.
The plans for 4501 Charlestown Road showed that location could potentially be used for multiple restaurants and another bank.
“I think this is a fitting area. It fits with the other buildings and retail and things in the area and would be an addition to that,” Council member Jason Applegate said of the 4501 property.
Both PUDs were approved with a variety of stipulations recommended by the New Albany Plan Commission, including requirements for signage, construction of sidewalks and approvals from Floyd County Commissioners and Floyd County Stormwater Board, among others.
Council members expressed concern about flooding and traffic in the area with the development of the properties. Leonard said that the company intends to follow all rules and procedures necessary for the city and county.