Fate of the Industrial Arts Building
The Industrial Arts Building is close to 100 years old.
It hasn't been used for anything for about six years. With the university planning to get started with Innovation Campus, it says this building doesn't really fit their goal.
For some, the Industrial Arts Building might just look like another building but for others, like Diane Walkowiak, it holds much more value. She says, “all the years that I went to the state fair, I loved the Industrial Arts Building. It was so unique, architecturally, and I would go into that building not to see the exhibits, but to see the building. I loved it.”
The university is looking at demolishing it to make room for Innovation Campus. NU Regent Tim Clare says they tried to find a way to work with it, even took bids, but couldn't take the financial risk that went along with it. “We had one potential party that would occupy and remodel the property but that bid had some economic flaws that the university just can't absorb.:
At a fundraiser to save the building, Walkowiak said ideally, they need someone to walk in with a $22 million dollar check. Knowing that probably won't happen, she says they're still looking for a donor. “To throw it away just because we say we don't have enough creativity, we don't have enough money, we don't have enough imagination to make it happen, that's a tragedy to me.”
Clare says they've done all they can do and that they need to focus on the potential of Innovation Campus. “We made a commitment to the legislature and the governor that this property would be used as Innovation Campus and would be conducting state-of-the-art research and creating job opportunities not only at the university, but the city of Lincoln and the state of Nebraska.”
The issue will ultimately be decided by the Nebraska Board of Regents.
This isn't the first time this building has been looked at. In the early 2000's, there was a plan submitted to the legislature by the Events Facilities Task Force to demolish the building and make way for a new multi-purpose exhibit hall. Ultimately, the legislature voted against funding that project.