A mid-century modern bank building on South Broadway that has been slated for demolition several times has been granted another reprieve.
The Lexington Center Corp. board voted unanimously Thursday to help a group trying to preserve the Peoples Bank building find a location on the corporation's High Street parking lot.
Lexington Center chairman Brent Rice said he had spoken with the bank building's owner, Robert Langley of Langley Properties, who agreed to give the group additional time to find a site to move it.
Langley Properties filed a demolition permit in April to tear down the building but gave a group of community leaders and a nonprofit a deadline — which was Thursday — to raise money for the project and find a site.
Rice said Thursday that he would tell Langley that the group and the corporation, which runs Rupp Arena, the attached convention center and the High Street parking lot, are exploring possible locations. Rice asked three board members who are developers — Ray Ball, Holly Wiedemann and Craig Turner — to meet with the group.
They will return with an update at the board's June meeting.
Finding a nearby site will keep down the cost of moving the building, said Tom Cheek, an architect and board member of the Warwick Foundation, which is trying to save the bank and turn it into the People's Portal, a type of community center.
Cheek said if the bank has to be moved away from the current block it sits on, utility lines probably would have to be moved, and that would add to the cost.
Laurel Catto, board chairman of the Warwick Foundation, said during Thursday's meeting that she was pleased and relieved that Langley had granted the group additional time to find a site.
"This is far, far more than just saving a building," Catto said. "This is a living, breathing monument to our community's values for respect and inclusion. This building is perfectly suited for this mission. (The bank) was designed as a public space."
The Warwick Foundation is a historic preservation group that promotes the work of Lexington native Clay Lancaster through education, preservation and facilitation of cross-cultural understanding.
Warwick has agreed to give $300,000 toward the $850,000 cost of moving the building and doing some interior work on it. Mayor Jim Gray has set aside $150,000 in his proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. That budget still must be approved by the Urban County Council. Also, former Kentucky first lady Libby Jones is spearheading a private fundraising effort to raise $250,000. In addition to the land, the group is asking for $150,000 from the Lexington Center Corp. for site improvements once a spot is selected.
Catto said Warwick would be responsible for the costs of running the building once it is moved.
Langley Properties has agreed to donate the building to Warwick if the group finds a site and raises money to move the building. A multiplex cinema is proposed for the same block as the bank, and it will be razed if it isn't moved.
Catto said the group has promised Langley it will not interfere with construction of the cinema. Developers have said construction isn't likely to begin until late summer or early fall.
Jones said the community — particularly Lexington's young generation — has formed an attachment to the 1960s bank building with its distinctive zig-zag roof. It's one of the few remaining mid-century Modern commercial buildings left in Lexington.
Jones became involved after her daughter, Lucy Jones, started a Facebook page in an effort to save the building.
Thanks to the online presence, the building's plight has generated national attention, Libby Jones said. Dwell, a national magazine, has written about efforts to save it. She said that just in the past week, 15,000 people have visited the Facebook page.
'It's spread literally around the globe," Jones said.