Historic renovation makes economic sense

John Ott, who has renovated several historic buildings, says historic renovation makes financial sense.

His ideas are explained in full in a February 20, 2010 article in the Columbia Business Times.

His most recent example is the Berry Building. For years, the building had been used as a warehouse. Then it went into decline and then under-use with retail space and later fell into significant disrepair.

But a few years ago, Ott bought the building and renovated it. Today, it houses a Wilson’s Fitness Center and includes luxury condominiums, which will provide housing for people to live downtown in the midst of what is becoming a thriving arts community. In February 2010, the building was named to Columbia’s Notable Properties list by the Columbia Historic Preservation Commission.

So what criteria can be used for measuring increased economic use? Ott uses utility meters. He said when he bought the building, it had three or four utility meters. Now it has 21 meters, all of which will be in use when the housing units are occupied.

Renovation isn’t some pie in the sky, good for you thing to do. It makes good economic sense. While in disrepair, the building was only returning to the utility company, in this case the city of Columbia, a return on three or four meters. When it is fully occupied, the utility company will be making money on 21 meters. And that makes good sense for the utility company and for John Ott, who now has a fully function, economically solvent building.