See art and the Niedermeyer Apartments

I’m a historic voyeur, always looking for opportunities to peek inside the historic buildings I write about. Surprisingly, not everyone welcomes me into their home or building to see the historic inside. Sometimes I find real estate videos or photos, but now here’s a unique chance to see the Neidermeyer.

From 5-8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 1, 2017, there will be a pop-up show featuring the work of 10 UMC artists, according to a Coming Up notice in the Nov. 27, 2017 Columbia Daily Tribune.

Yes! It’s a winner. Art and history!

1907 photograph, when the Niedermeyer Apartments were the Gordon Hotel. Photo from the Missouri State Historical Society, with the notation of no known copyright restrictions.

1907, when the Niedermeyer Apartments were the Gordon Hotel. Photo from the Missouri State Historical Society, with the notation of no known copyright restrictions.

But it’s also a miracle story. If you’re new around Columbia, you might not remember 2013 fight for the Niedermeyer’s existence.

At that time, there were rumors, then plans, then news that a company was going to buy the Niedermeyer, raze it and build a student-focused apartment building there. This Feb. 10, 2013 Columbia Daily Tribune article,  “If walls could talk”, outlines the history of the building.

The article written by Andrew Denney states it was the site of the Columbia Female Academy from 1837 until about 1854. The building was rented out as a residence from 1865 until 1895. From 1895 until about 1911, it was operated as a hotel. For a period of time, it housed the MU Department of Domestic Science. In 1921, it reopened as the Niedermeyer Apartments, the article continues.

The Niedermeyer was saved from destruction by Nakhle Asmar, who planned to buy and renovate the buildings, according to this Columbia Daily Tribune March 13, 2013 article, “Buyer plans to start with basic fixes.”

This destruction and construction boom even caught the eye of the New York Times, which published this article on June 13, 2013, “In Student Housing, Luxuries Overshadow Studying.”  In summary, it highlights the downtown student housing boom, and includes statements from various people expressing concern about the area being overbuilt, how students may or may not be spoiled by all the luxuries at the new housing, as well as one comment which called the new apartments “soulless” compared to the Niedermeyer Apartments.

Here’s another way you can get a peek, even without attending Friday’s event. This blog put together by the Columbia Historic Preservation Commission, Planning Department and City of Columbia has this post on the Niedermeyer with lots of inside photos!

You can get a view of the outside and some history in this City of Columbia video made to commemorate the building’s addition to the 2013 Most Notable Properties list. Forward to 3:03 and watch until 4:42, unless you really like the music.

Here’s the Columbia Missourian article about the Neidermeyer when it was named to the 2013 list.

But you don’t have to rely on newspaper articles or videos to see the Neidermeyer on the inside with Friday’s event. See you there?

Call to action to save an economic engine

The federal Historic Tax Credit, is on the chopping block, yet that might not make economic sense, according to the Rutgers Univesity’s Annual Report on the Economic Impact of Historic Tax Credit for FY 2015.

Those seeking to rally opposition include Debbie Sheals, a local preservation consultant, and state and national nonprofits, Missouri Preservation, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Historic Tax Credit Coalition.

Here’s how you can get involved if you’re ready to take action:

Here’s a call to action from two nonprofits, the National Trust Community Investment Corp. and Missouri Preservation, headquartered in St. Louis. Here’s a factsheet, too.

Here’s a factsheet from the Historic Tax Credit Coalition and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

How do I know this isn’t fake news?

Why should you believe the Federal Historic Tax Credit is an economic engine?

Thinking critically and demanding proof is part of my job as a journalist. I look for information that comes from agencies and organizations that have “no dog in the fight,” — impartial researchers.

In this case, the research was done by Rutgers University in New Jersey. The university in New Brunswick, New Jersey, is employed by the National Park Service, and the university is independent of the National Park Service and won’t benefit from the results.

In addition, Rutgers is a valid research organization. It isn’t simply a back room in a foreign country.

What the report shows

In Fiscal Year 2015, the report shows, the Federal HTC $5 billion in spending yielded $4.8 billion in Gross Domestic Product. Yes, that’s a loss. But looking at the tax credit from its inception, signed into law by President Ronald Reagan, the program has cost $120.8 billion but yielded $134.7 in GDP.

The report also notes that 55% of the certified rehabilitation projects in FY 2015 were located in low and moderate income census tracks.

Take a look at the report: Rutgers Univesity’s Annual Report on the Economic Impact of Historic Tax Credit for FY 2015.

Local example

In journalism, news values include proximity. We humans seem to care more about what’s near us or who we know.

Here is a link to an article I wrote in 2010 about the renovation — and tax credits for the project — of the Nowell building on Walnut Street by John Ott. He states clearly that projects like this depend on tax credits, yet those same tax credits hardly make him wealthy, he said. The tax credits make renovations economically possible.

Here’s more information about the article I wrote that was published in the Columbia Business Times.

Notable Properties: Historic Renovation Boosts Community Commerce — What if historic renovation made economic sense? Many say it does including Richard King, who operates The Blue Note, a thriving live music venue housed in the first building named to the Notable Properties List by the Columbia Historic Preservation Commission. The article can also be viewed on the Columbia Business Times website.

But don’t take my word for it — think critically and demand proof — and feel free to do your own research. And let me know what you learn. As a journalist, I can never have too much information.