Owners of popular restaurant facing legal trouble after historic home is demolished without approval

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – A local family is facing big trouble after they demolished a historic home in historic Fletcher Place without the city's approval. The Iaria family, known for their Italian restaurant in the neighborhood, now faces legal action and neighbors are calling for harsh penalties.

A hole now sits where the historic home once stood. The Iaria family demolished the 1864 home without ever getting approval.

"It's just really demoralizing and heartbreaking when you see a historic home that's demolished without the same TLC that was put into the other homes in the neighborhood," past neighborhood association president Glenn Blackwood said.

Blackwood says he moved to the neighborhood to be surrounded by old charm and character. The Iaria family is part of that history, their restaurant has been there since 1933 and spans four generations. The family got approval last July to renovate the home at 726 Lord Street and rebuild the foundation. During that time the house was moved to the lot they own next door.

"Because we had watched it. We were really just mesmerized. It was just a really, really interested process for them to move the home have it up on stilts in the parking lot all of a sudden it's gone," Blackwood said.

The Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission says they never signed off on that. Demolitions in that area come with strict guidelines. Now the family is trying to get permission to demolish the home but it's already gone. The family released this statement.

"Over the past 18 months we have spent a great deal of time, effort, and resources trying to build our home at 726 Lord Street in accordance with approved plans by IHPC. We plan on rebuilding the home to replicate the historic cottage style of the preexisting structure. Our approved 2017 plans by IHPC state that we did not have to reuse any external building materials and were approved to replace the roof framing and floor joists. Due to safety and liability concerns after the structure was lifted, we decided to remove the roof and floor while saving the studs. The studs that are salvageable are still located onsite. We feel any animosity towards this process is misguided and does not take all of the extenuating circumstances into account. Our family has been in Fletcher Place for over 100 years and 4 generations, and we have immense love for the neighborhood. We look forward to continuing to work with IHPC and their staff in order to build our home."

Neighbors want the family to face tough penalties to keep this from happening again.

"It's a great concern to the neighbors because if this continues to happen it's going to remove the historic character of the neighborhood. And this is why a lot of neighbors moved here in the first place," Blackwood said.

The family says they plan to rebuild the house to replicate its historic features. A hearing is set for August 1 after they requested the July 5 hearing be postponed. The IHPC has sent a complaint to the city prosecutor seeking the maximum fine, plus a $10,000 donation. The commission also wants the construction company investigated and wants the family to rebuild the house by a specific date and before the sale of the property.

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