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.

Did you miss this good news?

Downtown historic Columbia, Missouri might just be getting bigger. Here are some news articles about John Ott and Alley A, his firm’s plans for 300 N. Tenth St.

The former Koonse Glass building is on the other side of the historically acknowledged downtown area of Columbia. The building at Tenth Street and Park Avenue could soon house a grocery, possible cafe and cooking class venue. This will, I hope, extend and enhance the downtown vibe.

While many might bemoan the continued building of high-rise apartments, this could be a sign that more people living downtown means more opportunities to repurpose the buildings. As history and life moves on, one type of business may leave downtown, but there is always another wave of businesses moving in.

What examples of types of businesses moving in or out of the downtown do you remember?

Here’s a round-up of news about 300 N. Tenth St.

  • Nov. 10, 2016 — Board of Adjustment OKs repurposing Koonse Glass building, Columbia Missourian. Summary: The building at 300 N. Tenth St. (Park Avenue and Tenth Street), was given a variance on set-back requirements for the creation of a new entrance. The building is now owned by John Ott and managed by his firm Alley A. It formerly housed Koonse Glass, a company founded in 1967, according to this article in the Columbia Business Times. Note: Koonse Glass has moved to a new location. Here’s a link to Koonse Glass‘ new company website.
  • Oct. 8, 2016 — Root Cellar grocery relocating to old Koonse Glass building, Columbia Missourian. Summary: Grocery owned by Jake and Chelsea Davis will move to 300 N. Tenth St., building the fall of 2016. The article states, “The Davis’ chose the new location, once a feed and seed store, partly because of its history and their interest in historic preservation. The couple plans to use the larger space to host gardening and cooking classes and store more goods on site.”
  • May 13, 2016 — Developer plans restaurant space at former Koonse Glass building, Columbia Tribune. Summary: John Ott plans to turn the building at 300 N. Tenth St., formerly occupied by Koonse Glass into a building with a cafe, art gallery or retail space.

 

Got ideas? Hall Theatre hits 100, faces uncertain future

History, like aging, isn’t for sissies. As this Aug. 28-29, 2016 article outlines, the Hall Theatre is facing an uncertain future as it hits 100. One man, Don Mueller, wants to do something about it.

Now, the 1916 theatre is vacant. Owned by a Stan Kroenke firm, TKG Hall Theatre LLC, it has been vacant since Panera left downtown. So what if Kroenke is worth roughly $8 billion according to Forbes magazine and buys and moves sports teams. It’s up to us, Columbia, to look for ways to keep the historic downtown we’ve got.

So I ask, got ideas? Because a repurposed building is a preserved building. Been to Orr Street Studios? You wouldn’t have wanted to go there in 2005, before Mark Timberlake bought the warehouses and renovated them. Been to Sager Braudis Gallery on Walnut Street? That was a scruffy part of Columbia before John Ott of Alley A Realty renovated it. Now it houses luxury apartments, Wilson’s and a gallery. Scroll down to 2009 and take a peek at the before and after on this page.

This isn’t ancient history. Ott renovated the former grocery warehouse in 2009, Timberlake took his chances on renovating the warehouses in 2005. You can also read more about Ninth Street theatre history in this article I wrote in 2010.

Stephen Daw wrote about it and Alex Scimecca photographed it for the Missourian’s Aug. 28-29, 2016 article. Now it’s our job to take the next step.

 

What are we going to do in 2016?

Got ideas? I’d love to hear them — and I’m sure Don Mueller and TKG Hall Theatre LLC would, too.

 

Skyscrapers, preservation and development

Can preservationists learn to love skyscrapers? Sure. Because it’s not the height, the location or how old a build is that matters — it’s quality and how the building will serve people.

In this article in the New York Times, “Sure, Build it in My Backyard,” the website of Nikolai Fedak is highlighted. The name of the site? New York YIMBY – which stands for Yes in My Back Yard, versus NIMBY, not in my back yard.

So what’s a pro-development site like New York YIMBY doing being mentioned — even mentioned — on Columbia Historic Homes, a site dedicated to well, historic homes, ones you might presume I’m trying to preserve.

This article notes that Mr. Fedak says not all development is good, but that development is part of the economy and can be good. Note it can be good. Not that it is always good. The article outlines where and when he’s been critical.

It’s been said the best way to preserve a building is to put it to work. School buildings become homes. Former grocery stores become art galleries, gyms and luxury apartments. Yes, I’m talking the building on Walnut owned John Ott, mentioned in this Columbia Tribune article in 2008 and the one I wrote for the Columbia Business Times in 2010.

So where have you seen preservation work — and where have you seen it be misguided? For example, is it preservation as when as on campus they kept the shell of Walter Williams Hall?

And could skyscrapers ever be the answer? Who would want to say no to the Flat Iron Building in NYC? Yet, some of the student-oriented high-rise apartments in Columbia look unlikely to stand the test of time. Or did they say that about the Beverly and Dumas Apartment buildings?

So what’s it gonna be, Columbia? NIMBY or YIMBY? Share your thoughts on the ups and downs, pros and cons.

 

Berry Building Receives State Honor

On Wednesday, Missouri Preservation will present the Preserve Missouri Award to John Ott for his renovation of the Berry Building, a former warehouse and grocery at 1025-33 Walnut Street.

Once nearly derelict, today the 33,000-square-foot building gleams with PS Gallery and Independent Staves, a firm that manufactures and sells wine and whiskey barrels all over the world, sharing the street level space. The first tenant was Wilson’s Fitness on the lower level and all 12 of the luxury loft apartments on the upper floors are leased.

Missouri Preservation is a nonprofit dedicated to historic preservation promotion, support and coordination. The event is sponsored by a number of firms including Commerce Bank and Murry’s Restaurant, and will include presentation ceremony, luncheon and keynote address by Lt. Governor Peter Kinder.

It’s the first time a Columbia building has been among the buildings honored by Missouri Preservation since 2008, when 1927 Central Dairy building was honored. The year prior, 2007, both the Howard Municipal Building and Gentry Buildings on Broadway were honored.

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.