Archive for Friday, September 6, 2002

Instead of razing, Ohio Street houses may find new home

Neighbors, preservationists ask Kansas University for permission to move three dilapidated housing units

September 6, 2002


Time for Plan B.

Opponents of Kansas University's plan to raze three houses in the 1300 block of Ohio Street are asking the university to let them move the houses instead.

"It would save them (KU) money, because they wouldn't have the demolition costs," said Ronald Schneider, an attorney for the Oread Neighborhood Assn. and the Lawrence Preservation Alliance. Both organizations have contested the demolition plans.

"There have been some lots that my clients have looked at" as possible new locations for the houses, Schneider said. He declined to identify the sites.

Schneider sent the request to KU officials Thursday, a day after Gov. Bill Graves ruled the university could tear down the houses.

A KU spokeswoman said she hadn't seen the request and didn't have any comment.

The offer to move the houses doesn't mean the groups have given up the idea of suing the state to reverse Graves' decision.

"We're still considering all our legal options," Schneider said.

He said state law says "any aggrieved person" could challenge the decision, which means nearly anyone could file suit if they chose.

KU announced in spring 2001 its plan to tear down the three dilapidated, century-old houses on Ohio Street to make way for scholarship halls.

But the university has been prevented from doing so because of a March ruling by the state preservation officer that the demolition would harm the historic environs of nearby Usher House, 1425 Tenn.

That house, now occupied by Beta Theta Pi fraternity, is on the National Register of Historic Places. Opponents said the demolition would reduce the neighborhood's historic value and hasten university encroachment.

KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway in June appealed the ruling to Graves.

Schneider said part of the homes' value is their history in the Usher House neighborhood. But preservationists want them saved even if they must be moved.

"It defeats the whole damn concept of environs" to move the houses, he said. "This is now about conservation, not preservation."at 832-7126.

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