Allen Realty Co. had no takers on its offer of $10,000 to anyone who would move a 120-year-old church from its New Hampshire Street location and restore it, but the company is extending the deadline for proposals to Nov. 15.
Arly Allen, a stockholder in Allen Realty, this morning said the original Oct. 31 deadline on the offer passed without generating any interest. Allen said he interpreted the lack of offers as proof that no one is interested in the historic importance of the church and that opponents of the church's demolition merely want to stop him from development in the area.
"I'm sorry to say we got absolutely no response at all," Allen said. "I think that's indicative of the fact that the church itself is not the issue."
However, the president of a local preservation group called the offer a "red herring" and said no one interested in the historical significance of the church would move it.
ALLEN REALTY has sought permission to demolish the Old English Lutheran Church, 1040 N.H., for more than two years. It applied for a demolition permit in 1988, after it received an architect's study that said it was not economically feasible to convert the church into office space for Allen Press. The Allen Press offices are located across the street from the church.
Allen said the company is preparing for a third rehearing of the demolition request before the city commission. That rehearing has yet to be scheduled but Allen said that to gain approval to demolish the church, Allen Realty must prove that no "feasible or prudent" alternatives to demolition exist.
"We're having engineers do more work," he said. "Eventually, we'll present reports to the city commission giving the results of all of their studies."
IN THE MEANTIME, he said Allen Realty will extend its $10,000 offer for anyone serious about moving and restoring the church elsewhere.
"If somebody anywhere wants to save the church, I'd love to give it to them," Allen said. "I'm sincere in this: I'd really love to see it preserved but somewhere else.
"I just think the silence on our offer shows that the people opposing the demolition are not really serious about the church. . . . They just want to stop us from developing the land we own," Allen said.
Dennis Domer, the newly elected LPA president, said the church's historic significance was rooted in its close proximity to the Douglas County Courthouse. Both buildings were designed by reknowned Lawrence architect John G. Haskell, and the courthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
"Nobody interested in the historic nature of the building is going to want to move it," Domer said.
The LPA president said Allen has maintained all along that the church shouldn't be saved.
"If Mr. Allen doesn't feel that it's feasible to renovate the church at its current location, why would he feel it's feasible to move it and then renovate it? I think the whole offer is a red herring," Domer said.