- Associated Press - Sunday, April 20, 2014

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - The city is considering tearing down Lincoln’s 57-year-old auditorium, the Pershing Center, to make way for redevelopment.

Engineering consulting firm Alfred Benesch & Co. will look at the potential demolition costs as part of a $10,000 contract with the city.

Demolishing Pershing will help the city in finding a private developer, the city’s public works director told the Lincoln Journal Star (http://bit.ly/1eOMTg3).

“We think Pershing’s transition to what comes next will be expedited if the building is demolished,” said Miki Esposito in an email response to questions about the Benesch contract.

Demolition costs varied widely in the redevelopment plans the city received in 2012 when it first sought proposals for the Pershing site, Esposito said.

“We wanted to get a better handle on those costs to determine if the city can afford to demolish Pershing in the near future or whether demolition will have to be part of a larger redevelopment plan,” Esposito said.

The city expects to have the Benesch report in hand by Tuesday to use in developing its Capital Improvement Plan, a budget-related document that lists work the city hopes to do over the next two years.

The cost will determine whether the city can afford to demolish the building or whether it might be part of the negotiations when the property is sold for development, Esposito said.

The building has asbestos and the city also wants to know what kind of environmental care will be required, Esposito said.

Demolition was part of two of the three redevelopment plans offered for the square block in 2012.

The third proposal, converting the building into a city library, might have involved tearing down the building, but that decision would have been made at a later date.

Mayor Chris Beutler rejected all three proposals, primarily because they involved too much city funding.

Benesch is conducting an engineering analysis and an environmental and hazardous materials assessment of the building and the site, and will provide a cost estimate for demolition under the contract.

The survey includes a hazardous materials and asbestos analysis, including cost of abatement or disposal.

Omaha is looking for proposals to build a mixed-use development on the site of its 50-year-old Civic Auditorium.

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