- Associated Press - Monday, March 31, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - The damaged remains of a historic church in Des Moines could be torn down this summer, said city officials seeking funds to demolish it.

The City Council recently approved a plan to let the State Historic Preservation Office conduct a historic survey of the Asbury Church on Des Moines’ east side. The office will take photos and salvage anything that can be preserved or reused, The Des Moines Register reported (http://dmreg.co/1hbYBey ).

The church, which was built around 1888, is also known as Lighthouse Full Gospel Baptist Church. It was destroyed in a large fire last August, and officials say it’s a public nuisance.

The city will need to address its presence, since the church was not insured and its owner doesn’t have funds to repair or tear it down.

“Most of these cases are able to be handled by the property owner, but in those instances where there are no resources available and there is a threat to the public by the damaged structure’s existence, we have to find the money to take care of it,” said Phil Delafield, Des Moines’ community development director.

The newspaper reported that Community Development Block Grant money will likely be used to help pay for its demolition, which could happen in July or August. The Neighborhood Development Corporation, a nonprofit group, will take over the property once it’s torn down. They could then build on the space or sell it.

No firm estimate is available on the cost of demolishing the church. But the cost of tearing it down and cleaning it up could jump into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“In some cases, these old burned down buildings pose a real danger to the neighborhood and ignoring them isn’t an option,” said City Manager Rick Clark. “They do present a real challenge for a city because of the cost associated.”

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Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com