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IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Plans for a new parking garage, residential town homes and a five-story bank in Iowa City's Riverfront Crossings district will come at a cost: the demolition of a nearly 100-year-old brick school building.
The former Henry Sabin Elementary School was finished in 1918 to replace a post-Civil War era ward school and was considered cutting-edge when it opened.
It operated as an elementary school through the late 1970s, then served as an alternative school until 2006. The Iowa City Community School District's administration offices moved into the Sabin building in the early 1980s and remained until 2011.
The building's demolition could occur as soon as next year. But its historic significance has not gone unnoticed, Iowa City Senior Planner Robert Miklo told the Iowa City Press-Citizen (http://icp-c.com/1raKorU ).
There has been talk of preserving some of the former school's elements, including its ornamental limestone archways, Miklo said.
"They could be reassembled as an entryway or some sort of feature in the Riverfront Crossings Park," Miklo said. "There would be some sort of plaque commemorating the history of the building."
Mike Haverkamp, staff development facilitator with the Iowa City Community School District and unofficial Sabin Elementary historian, said the pending demolition of the former school has been foreshadowed since it was left vacant in 2011.
But that doesn't make its impending loss any easier.
"I'll be sad to see it go; I think it's a very visually interesting building," Haverkamp said. "There was some pretty incredible craftsmanship that went into that building."
Following the building's demolition, Iowa City officials plan to start construction on a roughly 640-space, four-level parking ramp. The parking garage will be wrapped in 28 two-level stacked condos, said Jeff Davidson, the city's economic development administrator.
The town homes are intended to act as a facade to hide the parking ramp from public view.
A bank is currently being built where a parking lot had been near the former school building.
Information from: Iowa City Press-Citizen, http://www.press-citizen.com/
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