CEDAR RAPIDS – A nearly century-old church could be saved from the wrecking ball, if someone steps forward soon with a plan for the building.
The former Lifeline Ministries Church, 800 G Ave. NW, remains on the Cedar Rapids demolition list.
City officials have agreed, however, to move it to the end of that list, giving until July for someone to show interest.
“Consideration would be given to selling the church if a buyer steps forward soon,” said Tom Smith, staff liaison for the city’s Historic Preservation Commission.
Smith noted that the city needs to receive a letter of interest and a letter from a bank demonstrating that the buyer has the desire and financing to purchase the building.
“That would be the first step before a competitive process like an RFP or sealed bid would be opened,” he said.
Without the demonstration of interest and available financing from a potential buyer, Smith said, there will be no competitive disposal process and the property will be demolished.
The church was cleaned out and reused after the Floods of 2008, but church members decided to sell to the city as part of the post-flood acquisition process.
Dick Green, who lives on Eighth Street NW, asked the commission to give the church an opportunity to be saved.
“I just don’t want it torn down,” he said, noting that the building had new wiring, plumbing, a new furnace and other amenities installed after the flood. “You don’t find churches that look like that anymore.”
Amanda McKnight Grafton, chairwoman of the Historic Preservation Commission, asked during last week’s commission meeting that the city provide one last effort for the building.
“Just one more opportunity to see if anyone would come forward,” she said. “Once it’s gone, it’s gone.”
The brick building with stained glass windows was built in 1918 as a Free Methodist Church at the corner of G Avenue and Eighth Street NW.
“It is part of the character of the neighborhood,” said Clint Miller, whose home on G Avenue NW is within sight of the church.
Miller, who works in construction, was able to return to his home about six months after the flood, but both homes next to his were demolished after city buy-outs.
Maura Pilcher, vice president of Save CR Heritage, applauded the decision to delay demolition.
Churches, schools and other prominent buildings, particularly those on corners, “show there is stability in the neighborhood,” Pilcher said.
She noted that national studies have shown that demolishing such iconic structures can have detrimental effects on neighborhoods.
“You start losing the identity of the neighborhood and that has a contagious effect,” she said. “It shows it’s a disposable neighborhood.”