City commissioners tonight are expected to decide the fate of an early-1900s home just east of Kansas University that a development group wants to raze but historic preservationists want to save.
Commissioners at their weekly meeting will consider taking action to clear the way for a demolition permit at 1232 La.
"It is really rough throughout, and the foundation also has major problems," said Price Banks, a Lawrence attorney who is representing 1240 Louisiana Street Associates LLC, which owns the property.
But historic preservationists and leaders with the Oread Neighborhood Association said the house - which has been standing since at least 1918 - is a classic example of a historically significant home being allowed to deteriorate to the point that demolition becomes a feasible option.
"I think this is probably a good case study for demolition by neglect," said Lynne Braddock Zollner, the city's historic resources administrator.
Zollner has recommended that the city deny the demolition. The city's Historic Resources Commission also has taken action to deny the demolition permit. Last week, the Oread Neighborhood Association also joined in the opposition by expressing concern that the demolition could encourage other property owners in the area to seek demolition permits.
But Banks said rehabilitating the seven-bedroom, three-bath home is not financially feasible. A recent estimate by a local construction company pegged rehabilitation costs at about $500,000.
Banks also said his client shouldn't be punished for the lack of maintenance on the property. His client purchased the property in 2007 from the Kansas University Endowment Association.
"The house has been vacant, and there has been deferred maintenance for a long, long time," said Banks, who believed the deferred maintenance began long before the Endowment Association took over the property in 2000.
Rosita Elizalde-McCoy, senior vice president of communications for the association, said the property was in poor condition when it had to purchase it as part of a package deal related to a property acquisition for a new scholarship hall in the 1300 block of Ohio Street.
Zollner, though, said that when she went through the property two years ago she believed the property could feasibly be rehabilitated. At that time, the city estimated it would cost about $130,000 to bring the property up to minimum code standards.
Elizalde-McCoy said the association did not have the expertise to rehabilitate the house, but held onto the property until 2007 to ensure that it wouldn't be needed for a future use by the university.
Banks said the property owner hasn't decided on any future development for the property, and also said he wasn't at liberty to disclose the principal individuals involved with 1240 Louisiana Street Associates. According to a 2007 annual report filed with the Kansas Secretary of State's office, the lone member of the company is R. Dean Wolfe.
City commissioners technically must decide whether there is a feasible and prudent alternative to the demolition. Commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. today at City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets.