The Lexington Center Corp. board on Monday announced that a site on its High Street parking lot has been selected as the future home of a mid-20th-century modern bank building that preservation groups are trying to save.
The site is on the lot near High and Patterson streets. The board directed its lawyers to draw up a potential lease agreement and told Lexington Center staff to review the site to ensure that utility hook-ups would be adequate.
The board also asked to see a long-term business plan from preservationists working to transform the former Peoples Bank building into the People's Portal, a type of community center that would focus on inclusion and cross-cultural programming.
The board's move comes just three days before a July 30 deadline to secure a site for the bank building and to raise $850,000 for its relocation and refurbishment.
The fate of the now vacant building — which sits on South Broadway — has been in question for years. The building's possible demolition to make way for a 12-screen cinema at South Broadway and High Street prompted the Warwick Foundation, a nonprofit organization, and several Lexington residents to propose moving and transforming it into the People's Portal.
Langley Properties, which owns the building, had given Warwick until Thursday to find a site and raise the $850,000. Langley Properties has agreed to donate the bank to the group if they met all of those conditions.
Laurel Catto of the Warwick Foundation said after Monday's meeting that organizers are $48,000 short of the goal.
"We have 10 grant requests pending," Catto said. "We have had large donors step up and we have had a lot of grass-roots support, smaller donors who have given $5 and $10 donations."
Catto said the group hoped to raise the money by Thursday but said Robert Langley, owner and CEO of Langley Properties, might give them some leeway if all of the money can't be raised in two days.
"We have a very good relationship with Mr. Langley, and he is very committed to the success of this project," Catto said. "But we have promised that we will not hold up their construction project — not even for 10 minutes."
Scott Davidson, vice president of Langley Properties, said the July 30 deadline is not set in stone.
"We're flexible as long as they are making progress," Davidson said.
The multiplex, which also will include bars and other amenities, is moving forward, but the bank does not need to be moved immediately, Davidson said.
Joe Terry, the Lexington Center Corp. board's lawyer, asked Warwick to provide the board with a long-term business plan so the Lexington Center has assurances that it would not be asked to contribute to ongoing expenses in addition to the $150,000 in in-kind donations for site preparation and landscaping.
Catto said she understood the board's concerns about any future obligations.
"We are happy to share those numbers with the Lexington Center Corporation," Catto said. "Warwick will be responsible for the operating cost going forward. We are not looking for any operating subsidy going forward."