UNL Rejects Only Development Proposal for Industrial Arts Building

By: Terra Hall Email
By: Terra Hall Email

"It is important to note that we were pleased we received one proposal, and the Alexander Company was a good company," said Christine Jackson, the Vice Chancellor for Business and Finance with the University of Nebraska Lincoln.

That scenario wasn't good enough, though, for the University of Nebraska to accept the company's proposal to buy the dilapidated Industrial Arts Building on the future grounds of its Innovation Campus.

"The University doesn't have the financial wherewithal to invest in that building to redevelop it," said Jackson.

"There are processes to follow for historical preservation, and we're just starting to analyze what those steps are, and we will work through that process," said Jackson.

Advocates are fighting to save the industrial arts building not only because of its historic and environmental value, but also because of its financial value. You see if this building makes it on the National Register of Historic Places and the University still decides to tear it down, the University could jeopardize its federal funding for Innovation Campus.

"This building was named by the national trust for historic preservation as America's 11 most endangered places in the country," said Diane Walkowiak, who is fighting to save the Industrial Arts Building.

Instead of demolishing the 97-year-old building, Walkowiak would like to see it complement the new Innovation Campus.

"I think it would be fantastic if the Industrial Arts Building, this wonderful tribute to Nebraska's past, was on one side providing a segue to the achievements of our future that are in Innovation Campus," said Walkowiak.

"If this building is ultimately demolished, I think it will be a huge loss for the state of Nebraska, and personally I will be very disappointed," said Walkowiak. "I am hoping and fighting that that does not become the reality."

The University issued a Request for Proposals March 5 seeking a developer to redevelop the Industrial Arts Building for reuse. One proposal was submitted before the July 1 deadline. The RFP was issued after concerns raised by a historic preservation group about the planned demolition of the building. Consultants have recommended the 1913 building be razed to make way for the development of Nebraska Innovation Campus.

Before making plans for Innovation Campus, meetings were held between UNL officials, UNL consultants and the City of Lincoln historic preservation planner, who conveyed that the Arsenal and 4-H buildings are the two on the property seen as significant and worthy of integration in future plans. Both are being preserved or redeveloped.


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