Wall with mural on Third Avenue to be demolished

Dispatch, The (Lexington, NC), 2014-07-31

July 31 --Lexington Assistant City Manager Terra Greene said city officials are in the process of determining whether the entire building will need to be removed, but due to deteriorating conditions of the property, the wall where the mural is painted will be demolished.

"There are structural issues with that building that we need to work through," Greene said. "We have roped it off for safety reasons and are waiting to hear back from the engineers for a final report on how we need to proceed. We are trying to make sure we do what is best and we don't cause any collateral damage, but the mural will definitely be impacted."

Lexington Appearance Commission member Frank Walters said the mural was the city's first community pilot art project, but hopefully it won't be the last.

"We have had discussions with the city, and we are all in agreement that it is not a safe building," Walters said. "I have personally seen the gaps in that wall getting larger. It is disappointing, but we are excited to see progress in the Depot District . The project was great and brought everyone together. It gave us the drive to potentially set up a community arts initiative through the appearance commission in the future."

The mural started as a community art project in September of last year, with Lexington artist Chip Holton overseeing the project. Walters said previously the idea for a community arts project came from former Lexington community development coordinator Jeanne Johnston , who approached the appearance commission to bring an arts movement to the area and to highlight the Depot District itself.

Greene said a city employee brought the rapidly deteriorating conditions of the building to city officials' attention approximately a month ago, which caused them to ramp up their efforts to deal with the structural issues. She said demolition needs to be strategic because of the location of water and sewage lines in the alleyway beside the building. The time line for possible demolition has not been determined.

"We are trying to make sure we do what is best," Greene said. "We have not received the final report yet, so the ultimate decision has not been made. It all depends on the cost and if we can take it down in a safe manner."

Tammy Absher , director of the Lexington Business and Community Development Office, said even though it is disappointing to lose the mural, it is a good start to progressing with the Depot District .

"The mural was intended to draw attention to the area," Absher said. "Although we hate to see this happen to the art project, it is a good beginning to the redevelopment of the Depot District ."

Walters said although it's unfortunate to see the initial community art project demolished, the appearance commission will have more opportunities for projects in the future.

"It is sad that we didn't get it finished, but we are moving forward," Walters said. "Everyone on the appearance commission is excited about the development in this area. We are not focused on this one project and are hoping to initiate another mural very soon. We have learned from our mistakes and have had several different ideas. We are certain that we will have more opportunities to bring more attention, visually, to the Depot District ."

Sharon Myers can be reached at 249-3981, ext, 228 or at sharon.myers@the-dispatch.com . Follow Sharon on Twitter: @LexDisptachSM


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