AUGUSTA — A Water Street apartment building deemed historically significant by the city’s Historic Preservation Commission is scheduled to be demolished by its new owner, Penney Memorial Baptist Church.

The pending destruction of the 167-year-old building is the latest example of the city’s failure to preserve its cultural and architectural past, according to one city councilor and commission member.

The 387 Water St. lot will be landscaped and have a plaque noting its historical significance, as the former home of both a late Augusta mayor and a city marshal. But the blue building on the site – built in 1848 and used most recently as a multi-unit apartment building, and by the previous owner as a law office – is being prepared this week for demolition.

Church officials followed the city’s procedure for demolishing an older building, including waiting more than the 90 days as required by the city’s demolition delay ordinance after the building was determined by the Augusta Historic Preservation Commission to be historically significant. The church plans to tear it down, as well as another, newer building with which it shares a parking lot.

The city’s demolition delay rules, passed in 2012, are aimed at buying time for historically significant buildings to be saved instead of being torn down.

Dale McCormick, an at-large city councilor and member of the Augusta Historic Preservation Commission, said the loss of the building is the latest incidence of Augusta losing its “irreplaceable cultural and architectural structures.”

She said the demolition delay ordinance is “toothless” because it doesn’t provide any tools to prevent historic buildings from being demolished, just delays the process for 90 days.

“If you look at the places that are thriving in Maine, they’re all preserving their architectural and cultural past, because they understand that is important,” McCormick said. “And we’re not. We just don’t have any tools in Augusta to preserve, or even evaluate preserving. We’re slowly replacing our past with, well, a parking lot, in this case.”

The demolitions will make way for additional parking for the church – up to 300 people attend Sunday services – to provide a buffer between it and the adjacent neighborhood.

Daniel Wathen, former chief justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court and Penney Memorial Baptist Church’s moderator, said the church bought the vacant building after seeing it remain for sale for a couple years.

“The church was interested in it as a buffer; it extends your area of control by owning it,” Wathen said. “The church wasn’t interested in rehabilitating the building. It was for sale for some time and there didn’t seem to be much interest in it. So the church acted on the fact that it’d make a buffer and extend our footprint there. And potentially serve as additional parking.”

The building, according to preservation commission meeting minutes, was at different times home to Alden Philbrook, mayor of Augusta in 1883, who was also a deacon in the First Baptist Church in Augusta, the predecessor to Penney Memorial Baptist Church. Joshua Heath, a former city marshal and firefighter, also lived there.

The commission voted unanimously in June to deem the property historically significant. That set up a 90-day waiting period before it could be demolished, a threshold that came July 20.

The church has a demolition permit and is expected to proceed with demolition soon, City Manager William Bridgeo said.

McCormick, the city councilor and commission member, said the city is losing its history and has lost a lot of affordable housing units. She said people in the community, other than some downtown property owners, haven’t yet recognized that preserving history helps create economic development.