Asbestos and an architectural hodgepodge make a historic building in the heart of downtown Gilbert more of a burden than a blessing, Town Council members say.
Councilman Don Skousen said the problems of the building, constructed in the early 1900s, outweigh its sentimental value.
"I think it’s time to tear it down," he said. "I would like to rid the town of this corner and I’m as tied to that structure as anyone else."
The building, on the northwest corner of Gilbert and Elliot roads, is the former home of the Gilbert Boys and Girls Club and the site of Gilbert’s original Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, has been vacant for almost two years.
A town- commissioned study revealed extensive problems, including the need for asbestos removal. A request for proposals for a short-term tenant, who would make needed improvements, failed to inspire responsive ideas. And, Councilman Larry Morrison said, the building is what can only be described as a "conglomeration of architectural designs."
A vacant building with hazardous materials and hodgepodge design isn’t what the town needs at its heart, Morrison and others on the council said at a meeting earlier this week.
"At some point, I’m concerned that the building becomes an albatross for the town," said Councilwoman Joan Krueger, who added that the corner is key to Gilbert’s redevelopment district. "I seriously doubt that restoration is going to be a viable option, so I think we should be open to what else is out there."
Councilman Steve Urie has worked with town staff to revise a request for proposals to offer the building for sale and for use for commercial purposes.
"It would be easier to tear it down, (then rebuild it) and make it look old," Urie said. "We’re going to go broke saving money on that one."
As the building faces an uncertain fate, the Gilbert Fine Arts Association might give it a last hurrah. The group is negotiating a temporary lease to host a theater series through the end of the year there.
The council is scheduled to consider the lease and the revised request for proposals for a permanent tenant or owner at its Aug. 2 meeting.