Last month, the owners of the building that once housed the First Church of Christ, Scientist hinted that they might appeal Lakewood’s Planning Commission’s decision to make the 100-year-old building a historic landmark.
California Phone — which owns the property — followed through, filing an appeal in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.
The city’s planning commission, as well as LakewoodAlive, the city’s economic development organization, are named as defendants in the case.
The historic designation — one of only three structures in the city with the “landmark” status — means that the nearly 100-year-old building cannot be torn down.
Changes to the building’s exterior will also not be permitted.
That didn’t sit well with the company, which is trying to sell the property.
Representatives for California Phone could not be immediately reached.
However, Dru Siley, the city’s planning and development director, said the city is ready for the case.
“I am happy to fight that fight,” Siley said on Friday. “This effort is worth it to our city and to our downtown.”
At last month’s planning commission meeting, the attorney for the California-based phone company expressed concerns that the new designation would lower the property value.
But city officials said that’s not the case.
Earlier this year, the Lakewood Heritage Advisory Board recommended that the structure at 15422 Detroit Avenue receive the special distinction — which means that the building could never be demolished.
The structure also now qualifies for historic building federal and state tax credits.
According to the application, the stone building boasts a number of significant architectural features including detailed masonry work.
Designed by Charles Draper Faulkner — the architect behind dozens of First Church of Christ, Scientist structures in the Midwest — the large two-story building’s construction began in 1913.
Church services took place in the basement until the upstairs was completed in 1922.
The building, situated just to the west of the Drug Mart Plaza, was sold in 2004 to a commodity plastics trading firm, which extensively renovated the property.
And last year, the structure — most recently home to Maxxum Plastics — closed its doors and was put up for sale. According to court documents, the company ceased operations in Lakewood in 2009.
That’s when California Phone took ownership.
According to a 2008 tax assessment, the property and the building are valued at $1.8 million. The property — including the 23,000-square-foot building — is now on the market for almost $2 million.