By Ted Land (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Click here to friend Ted on Facebook
7:29 PM EDT, October 8, 2012
SOUTH BEND -- Parts of the Avon Theater’s terra cotta façade would be saved, but the structure itself would be demolished, under a proposal the South Bend Historic Preservation Commission and the St. Joseph County Public Library have agreed to consider.
The two groups signed a memorandum of understanding, Monday, which aims to settle the matter of what to do with the historic, but dilapidated, downtown property, which the Historic Preservation Commission wanted to save.
The library, which owns the Avon Theater, wants to knock down the building and two others at 307-309 S. Michigan St., to make room for a parking lot. They plan to eventually build a new library on the land.
The compromise, which was presented to the Common Council, Monday, must be approved by both the South Bend Historic Preservation Commission and the library board.
If both sides agree to the plan, the Historic Preservation Commission would request that the Common Council table a bill seeking landmark status for the theater.
“I think it’s a very sane way of going about doing this,” said Catherine Hostetler, director of the Historic Preservation Commission.
“We will get the architecturally significant terra cotta and the library will be able to demolish those three buildings, including the Avon, to provide the parking and whatever other facilities that they wanted,” she said.
The terra cotta pieces could eventually be incorporated into a new building, Hostetler said.
Under the plan, the library would pay for removing, categorizing, and transporting the terra cotta pieces to a yet-to-be determined storage facility.
Hostetler said she did not know how much that would cost.
Basically, with the memorandum of understanding, the commission recognizes that it just doesn’t make economic sense to save the entire building, Hostetler said.
“Someone would have to come with a lot of money to be able to bring that theater back to any type of productive use, because all of the amenities are gone. There’s no heating, there’s no cooling, no electricity, there’s no water,” she said, “What is basically there is a concrete reinforced concrete box.”
Copyright © 2013, WSBT-TV