- Associated Press - Monday, September 22, 2014

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - A historic building in the path of a downtown Lafayette interchange for the planned Interstate 49 Connector will not be demolished - at least for now.

Department of Transportation and Development spokeswoman Deidra Druilhet tells The Advocate (https://bit.ly/XM7clU ) the contract to tear the building down has been cancelled.

DOTD had been moving forward with plans to demolish the Coburn’s building, but changed course after state historic preservation officials recommended last month that the building be put on the National Register of Historic Places.

“Because of this new development, DOTD has canceled its contract to have the building demolished. Based on these findings, DOTD will conduct a reassessment of the building,” Druilhet said.

The building, believed to have been built either in the late 1800s or early 1900s, is one of the oldest structures in downtown.

A letter sent by the Historic preservation officials with the state Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism to DOTD and federal transportation officials after the site visit asked for a reassessment of the demolition plans considering the “significant role” the historic building played in Lafayette’s early economy.

“I am excited that hard work, community support and logic has won the day,” said Robert Guercio, who has been spearheading efforts to save the building and hopes to see it redeveloped.

Guercio said the next major step is to pull together the extensive historical research needed to make the case that the building should be on the National Register.

The decision of that designation would be made by the National Park Service.

Even with DOTD’s cancellation of the demolition contract, officials say the building still might be torn down at some point to make way for the interchange.

But the cancellation sets the stage for a reconsideration of whether the design of the I-49 interchange in that area could be tweaked to allow the building to remain in place.

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Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com

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