116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
So First Christian Church was demolished today. I wrote about the saga a couple of Sundays ago, which I thought would be the church's last Sunday. But it held on for another eight days. My original take on the issue still stands.
It just seems like such a waste. A sturdy, century old building, with significant historic value and probably some potential for a second act, gets smashed to make way for another slab of asphalt, 40 parking spots. I really don't think you had to have been marching on the preservationist picket lines in recent weeks to feel some sense of loss. I know it's supposed to be progress, it just doesn't feel that way.
But it's gone. What now?
I'm glad to hear the folks who fought and lost this one say they're going to work to avoid this scene in the future. I think Mayor Ron Corbett is also on the right track when he talks about the possibility of creating an initiative to help investors redevelop historic properties that remain standing.
Certainly, halting demolition and raising money to buy a threatened building are important steps, but the biggest barrier in this case, and others, is crafting a plan for redeveloping the property into a new use. There are lots of incentives and breaks for companies that build something new, so it makes some sense to consider help for other ventures that preserve something old. Restoration can be just as economically progressive and valuable as new construction.
“It's probably not financially feasible to save everything. But it's not practical to tear everything down, either," Corbett said recently. Agreed.
So we'll see what happens. I'm optimistic that the church's legacy will be smarter preservation policy in this town. Speaking of smarter policy, The Gazette also