A day after filing a permit to demolish the former Peoples Bank building on South Broadway, the owners of the building said Thursday they were willing to give preservation groups time to raise money to move it.
Langley Properties filed a demolition permit late Wednesday, according to city records, alarming groups who thought the building had been spared.
On Thursday, Langley Properties vice president Scott A. Davidson emailed a statement on behalf of Robert Langley that said in light of preservationists' concerns, Langley would delay demolition for three weeks.
"At that time, (Langley) will evaluate the progress that has been made in raising the necessary funds to relocate the building and in identifying the location to which it is to be relocated," the statement said. "If sufficient progress has been made at that time, an attempt will be made to accommodate the relocation," provided the relocation does not interfere with construction of a movie theater complex on the property.
Lucy Jones, who has spearheaded efforts to preserve the building, said Thursday that she still hoped it could be saved.
"At this point we're still just hoping for the best," Jones said. "There's been a lot of conversation with Mr. Langley, and he has been very supportive and patient with efforts to relocate it. We're hoping he will continue to be so."
A group of private individuals, preservationists and a nonprofit group has worked for months to save the building, with its distinct zig-zag roof and blue tile. It was designed by Lexington architect Charles Bayless and was completed in 1961.
The group wanted to move the bank — one of the few remaining examples of mid-century modern commercial buildings in Lexington — a short distance to a parking lot on High Street, across from the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Langley Properties had agreed to donate the building if money could be raised to move it.
The building's future has been in jeopardy since plans were announced for a 12-screen theater complex in the same block. But construction won't begin until late summer or early fall, representatives of the theater group have said.
Mayor Jim Gray had put $150,000 in his proposed budget to help move the bank.
Gray said in a statement Thursday that the city could do nothing if the developer decided to demolish the building.
"My proposed budget includes funding to help move the structure, protecting the building for future use while freeing the lot for new development," Gray said. "As privately owned property, however, the city has no legal standing to prevent demolition of the Peoples Bank."
Sarah Tate, an architect who specializes in mid-century modern architecture, said that if the bank is razed, Lexington will have few examples of a key period in architectural history.
"It represents a very important stage in the development of modern architecture," Tate said. "This happens to be intact and a very good example of that period."
The bank has been nominated for the National Register of Historic Places. That designation would not prevent the bank building from being demolished or moved.