A task force looking for options to save Highland Hall faces a job as enormous as the historic structure it hopes to preserve.
Select members of Borough Council, the borough's Historic Architecture Review Board and some residents are teaming up in hopes of staving off demolition of the more than 140-year-old building that housed various entities over the decades.
Blair County formerly owned the building, which housed offices until a courthouse addition was constructed. In 1998, Highland Hall was sold to RADD Development Corp. The building has been vacant since that time.
In June, Ralph Albarano of RADD Development Corp. sent a letter to the borough asking for permission to tear down the structure because the cost of saving the building has gotten too high, especially given the current economic climate.
A number of people have voiced objections to plans to raze the building.
Their desire to preserve the history of the area is laudable. The question is whether they can find someone willing to invest the likely tens of millions of dollars needed to make that happen. Most investors are going to want to profit from their investment.
With the costs of repairing and renovating the structure, it could be difficult to find tenants willing to pay the rents that would be required. Most entities are looking to cut costs wherever possible.
An easier option would be to find a wealthy benefactor to donate the money to preserve the building out of a sense of historic preservation. But such a scenario also seems unlikely.
We understand why some are not ready to throw in the towel on saving Highland Hall, and we wish them luck. But even supporters of the building need to understand the tough road ahead.
Highland Hall has stood the test of time for decades. Whether it can withstand the tests of age, deterioration and weather in a tough economy is yet to be determined.