EL PASO, Texas - The Lincoln Center will remain standing beyond October 1.
The executive director of the Texas Department of Transportation, which owns the building, made the announcement Wednesday afternoon.
October 1 was the deadline for the city to remove anything of value, such as murals and documents, from inside the center to make way for TX DOT to demolish the building. In a letter emailed to ABC-7, executive director LtGen Joe Weber stated that he decided the building will not be demolished on that date.
"This issue has been demolition, no demolition. It goes back and forth," Lincoln Center Conservation Committee member Miguel Juarez told ABC-7 Wednesday evening. "I think we're hopeful, but we've been here so many times before, I was telling someone it's like a telenovela."
Weber also stated, "The future of the building is tied to future transportation projects in this area that are subject to environmental and cultural reviews. The future of the building can only be determined after completion of these studies."
"They might just be prolonging the demolition. I really don't know," said Juarez. "We're just going to have to work with them and get the community and the city representatives engaged and see if there's a solution to keep the center from being demolished and reopening it."
State Senator Jose Rodriguez reacted to the announcement in a statement, saying, "This decision paves the way for the community and the City Council ... to make the necessary decisions on the investment and management of the Lincoln Center without the threat of immediate destruction."
The city spokeswoman told ABC-7 no one in City Hall had heard about this latest development until notified by ABC-7.
But Juli Lozano said the city will continue as agreed upon during a City Council meeting last month, by voicing its stance behind preserving the Lincoln Center during a Texas Transportation Committee meeting in Houston next week.
In his statement, Weber also said the agency is focused on working with the city and community members on removing and preserving artifacts from the center.
Weber said TX DOT will also secure the center, maintaining that the facility remains a health and safety risk.
It was shut down after mold was discovered in the building, shortly after Storm 2006.