I'd just send to B.Nelson or even a local cobbler. Recrafting is $125, and considering most of their calf offerings are ~$300, I don't see the value especially when you mention they aren't flexible on sole choices. The primary advantage AE has is that they will be able to put the shoe on the original last, but I don't think that's that big of a deal unless you want to make size adjustments. Many people with much higher quality shoes use B. Nelson with no problems.
Using the original last is actually a major advantage, in that it helps ensure that your shoe doesn't change sizes during repairs, which is a fairly large risk. Changing sizes during recrafting is something that AE doesn't do, and even though it is theoretically possible, it isn't advised by any manufacturer that I know of.