The Chattanooga Historical Commission ruled Thursday that the GreenTech development firm cannot tear down an old St. Elmo house it bought for $22,000.
Members of the panel said the home at 1614 W. 55th St. is a "contributor" to the historic district and could be rehabbed.
Chris Anderson of GreenTech said his group advertised the house for sale at $60,000 and did not get any takers. He said he was told by the city attorney's office that would clear it for demolition.
He said there is also a problem with water running under the house. Board members said that problem could be fixed.
GreenTech had wanted to build a new house at the site.
Mark Przybysz said at an earlier meeting, "I appreciate the applicant’s report. There was nothing in your report that tends to the demolition of the house. It is still on the historic list. There are a lot of houses in St. Elmo that have that sort of elevation and foundation and are in as bad or worse condition. This house could be rehabbed. There is no financial hardship for this company. I feel like, although they have jumped through all the hoops, this house does not need to be demoed."
At the earlier meeting, board member Melissa Mortimer said, "These houses have been fixed before. The listing price is high. I just cannot approve this house being torn down."
Mr. Anderson said, "An ad for sale of the property was placed in the paper. We advertised this house at $60,000 on Oct. 1. Phil Noblett informed me that if I met the requirement to place an ad for the sale of the house I would have met all the criteria for demoing the house."
He said he believes the house is about a century old - not 130 years old.
At that meeting, Doug Eckert made a motion to allow the demolition, but did not get a second.
The full board on Thursday voted to block the demolition.