BEL-NOR, Mo. – We have an update to a story we first brought you a few weeks ago. Community efforts to save a former convent from demolition seem to be working.
The University of Missouri-St. Louis has postponed plans to demolish the former Incarnate Word convent.
Normandie Hall has been owned by the UMSL since the early 1990s. The former dormitory and honors college buildings were set for demolition this summer, but a grassroots effort to save the former convent caught the attention of UMSL officials.
With an estimated price tag of $11 million to renovate Normandie Hall, officials decided it was too costly to renovate, and announced plans for demolition.
One month ago Dan Riley took action, starting an online petition to save Normandie Hall. He collected more than 1,000 signatures online. They also went door-to-door collecting more signatures.
"At this point I represent and entire community of people both online and in our neighborhoods who want to see this building protected," said Riley.
Riley presented the petition to UMSL Chancellor Thomas George Thursday.
Reporter: "You're open to the idea of leasing the land and selling the building if someone wants to come along and buy it?"
"That's our initial game plan right now that's what we're going to try to do," said George.
George says UMSL is listening to preservations and that demolition plans have been postponed.
"On hold. We're not going to demolish a building that we're trying to sell," said George.
The unanswered question is whether the building is too run down and too expensive to be saved.
"We walked through with developers and people who renovate and specialize in these sorts of renovations and they were very optimistic that this could be done for less than $11 million," said Riley.
For the time being, this historic former convent has escaped the wrecking ball.