A foundation that spearheaded an aborted attempt to save and move a mid-20th century bank in downtown Lexington is now refunding money to donors.
Meanwhile, the fate of the Peoples Bank on South Broadway is still up in the air because the contractor hired to move the building has not yet removed all the equipment and materials on the site. Scott Davidson, president of Langley Properties, which owns the building, said it plans on tearing down the building sometime in the “very near future.”
The Warwick Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to preservation, started mailing refunds this week to donors who gave more than $1,000. Donors who gave less than $1,000 can get their refund via PayPal. The PayPal refunds were available starting Thursday.
Donors who used PayPal will receive an email with instructions on how to redeem their refund via the online pay service. They have 30 days to do so, according to a statement from the Warwick Foundation. Those that gave more than $1,000 will receive about 83 percent of whatever amount they donated.
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Warwick announced in February it could not proceed with its plans after a contractor hired to move the bank from its South Broadway location to a new site on High Street missed several deadlines. In addition to individual donations and foundation grants, the city of Lexington gave $300,000 to move the bank. The city has received the bulk of that money —$298,000 —back, Warwick officials have said.
The Warwick Foundation had pledged $600,000 to the project. Previously, it has been reported that an additional $250,000 came from grants and individual donors. Warwick officials said in total more than $684,000 was being refunded to public and private donors.
Some donors have decided to re-donate their original donation to help cover more than $50,000 in costs Warwick says it has accrued during the aborted project.
“We are so touched by everyone who’s already written to say they want to re-donate their refund to help Warwick cover its project expenses,” said Laurel Catto, of the Warwick Foundation. More than $35,000 has been re-donated to Warwick so far.
The Warwick Foundation’s efforts to save the bank, move it and use the building as event space and a community center started after a 2015 online push to save the bank from bulldozers. The bank with its turquoise tile and zig-zag roof is one of the few remaining mid-century commercial buildings left in Lexington, preservationists say. Facebook and other social media helped spur efforts to raise money to save the building after it was announced it would be razed to make room for a new theater complex on the same block of South Broadway. Efforts to save the bank building drew national attention and were featured in magazines such as Dwell and websites such as Curbed.
After Warwick announced it was backing out of the project, another group tried to raise money to save the bank but those efforts ultimately fell short.
Langley Properties agreed to donate the building to Warwick if the building was moved. In addition, Langley also donated $75,000. But the bank is on property that is slated to become a new entrance to an existing parking garage. The new entrance is needed because the proposed movie theater will be built on the other side of the garage near the corner of High Street and South Broadway.
Krikorian Premiere Theatres, which proposed a 12-screen theater complex at High Street and South Broadway in 2015, is moving forward with the project despite repeated delays, officials with Krikorian said in February.
Officials with Krikorian did not immediately return phone calls Thursday.
John Landers Jr. of Hercules House Movers confirmed Thursday there is an ongoing dispute between Hercules and Langley over the removal of his equipment and materials from the site.