Lincoln official says university didn't get demolition permit to raze former Cushman plant


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LINCOLN, Nebraska — A Lincoln city official says the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is violating city code by failing to get a demolition permit for the razing of the former Cushman Motorworks plant.

The demolition work began in March after a Michigan company was awarded the $850,000 project. The deconstruction has drawn the ire of preservationists who say the 1913 art deco, brick building should have been declared a city landmark.

The university has not indicated its plans for the site. Earlier this year, university officials said the building had fallen into "massive deterioration" and had become a liability to the school.

City plans examiner Gordon McGill told the Lincoln Journal Star (http://bit.ly/1m3bG1e ) that neither UNL nor the demolition company had filed for a city demolition permit by July.

McGill said he called UNL and threatened to shut down the project until the proper documents were submitted, but as of Tuesday, crews continued to clear the site.

The university proceeded on the deconstruction project "based on past precedent with the city," said UNL spokesman Steve Smith.

"We are currently coordinating with the city with respect to any demolition permits that may be required in the future, considering the nature of this phased deconstruction," Smith told the newspaper.

Smith said deconstruction of the site is about 70 percent complete and work is expected to finish by early September.

The university has owned the original Cushman building and surrounding factory complex since 2003. UNL officials have said the brick building wasn't salvageable, and any efforts to repurpose it were not feasible.

But preservationist Matt Steinhausen said he took pictures of the demolition work showing how sturdy the building was.

"A (three-ton) skid loader was driving on the second story knocking over walls," Steinhausen said. "This was a building the university told me wasn't viable."

Steinhausen said UNL should develop better policies regarding future use of historic buildings.


Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com

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