PRESERVATIONISTS drop efforts to save bomb-damaged YMCA building

Friday, May 25th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ There are no longer any obstacles blocking the demolition of a structure damaged in the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

Preservationists filed a motion in Oklahoma County District Court this week to dismiss their appeal of a city decision allowing the YMCA building at N.W. 5th Street and Robinson Avenue to be razed.

Michael Smith, a member of the group, said the group's inability to fund the case played a critical role in its decision.

``We could nearly have bought the building from the YMCA for what we have in this on legal fees so far,'' Smith said this week. ``Our financial support couldn't go any more.''

Preservationists had argued that the building is too important to destroy because of its significance related to the bombing and its architectural style.

A company called 5th Street Parking Partners wants to build a new parking lot with 130 spaces and room for a bus or other large vehicle on the site that would serve the Oklahoma City National Memorial, the Journal Record Building and another office building immediately north. The lot would be secured by a gate and landscaped to meet city codes.

Attorney G. Blaine Schwabe III, representing Parking Partners and its main investor, the Bob Moore Auto Group, said Thursday work to start demolishing the building could begin as early as next week.

``Our hope is to get the project done within 180 days,'' he said.

Parking Partners purchased the land for an undisclosed price a year ago. The building has been empty since it was damaged in the bombing.

Partners representatives sought to tear it down because it had no ground-floor windows, no parking for retail, upstairs windows that were too small for apartments and exorbitant renovation costs.

The owners originally won approval to raze the building from Oklahoma City's Board of Adjustment in January, but preservationists took the case to court.