Is this the next YMCA?

Published 10:33 pm Saturday, January 28, 2012

The historic Teppers Building, owned by the Freedom Foundation, remains encased in construction wrap, a state it has sat in unchanged for years. The Selma City Council is now wanting updates from building owners on their plans and renovation schedule.

As the furor over the possible demolition and now possible sale of the old YMCA to the Selma-Dallas County Historic Preservation Group appears to be settling, it appears now the Selma City Council is working to ensure such demolition by neglect doesn’t occur with another of Selma’s iconic buildings.

At recent council meetings, the council has listed the topic of the Teppers Building, its state of construction and renovation — or as some council members have said — lack of construction and renovation.

Ward 3 councilmember Greg Bjelke, whose district includes the Teppers Building, recently sent a letter to the Freedom Foundation, the group who owns the building, asking for updates on the building’s work and the group’s plans.

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“Our long term plans for the building are to develop the space into a community center that is focused on serving the youth of the city by providing art programs, mentoring, and a safe place for them to congregate,” Freedom Foundation Director of Operations Shawn Samuelson said in a written response to Bjelke. “We have not finalized our plans for the building …”

In the letter, Samuelson said the group is now focused on raising money to complete the project that has been stalled quite some time.

“… we are focused on raising money to complete the renovation project,” Samuelson said. “It is a large scale project, and with the struggling economy it has been slow in fundraising.”

And while the building has been “under wraps” for years — with most of the bottom floor encased in construction wrap — any work on the project would be a welcomed sight by local historic groups.

“At this point, any work on the building would be welcomed,” Nancy Bennett, with the Selma-Dallas County Historic Preservation Group, Inc., said. “We support the work and renovation of any historic buildings, but especially those along Broad Street.

That is the face of Selma when you drive through town and that is the face we need to continue to save.”

Samuelson, in the letter, did indicate the group hoped to have some work begin on the building in the next few weeks.

“Our immediate plan for the building is to do some work in the spring,” Samuelson wrote. “We have some more clean up and demolition to do in the interior and some work we would like to finish on the exterior as well.”