Backup buyer for R.I. school presents offer

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As Fareway Stores Inc. moves forward with plans to buy the 90-year-old, vacant Audubon School site from the Rock Island/Milan School District #41, a backup buyer for the property stepped forward Tuesday.

Joseph Lemon, Jr., whose company owns and operates The Abbey Addiction Treatment Center in Bettendorf and Abbey Station in Rock Island, says they will purchase the property for $475,000, “only if Fareway does not purchase the property.”

In an e-mail to the realtor, Lemon stated, “As you know, the school board has refused to allow you to show us the interior of the property, and the mayor, city manager and city attorney have refused to meet with us to discuss our proposal. Apparently the concept of preservation of historic properties by those who have the ability to do so is frightening to some people.

The Mayor, City Manager and City Attorney were not available for comment Tuesday night.

In the offer, Lemon states that, if allowed to purchase the property, the company would utilize the historic building, pending property rezoning for “residential housing, office, storage, retail, commercial and school uses.”

“As owners of significant properties in [the Quad Cities],” Lemon continued in the e-mail, “we would have expected to be treated with courtesy. However, we will ignore the conduct of those who are supposed to protect our neighborhoods and our history, and simply try to save a beautiful, historic structure.”

Rock Island’s City Council will discuss the proposed sale to Fareway on Monday. Fareway has until August 1st to complete the transaction.