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.

The Blue Note and Ragtag/Uprise/Hitt Records buildings honored

This just in — the buildings that house The Blue Note, Ragtag Cinema, Uprise Bakery and Hitt Records will be honored with a new award.

According to this Columbia Missourian March 28, 2017 article, Brent Gardner is creating Cornerstones to highlight downtown businesses and buildings.

The article states that the building at 10 Hitt St. was once the Coca-Cola Bottling Co. plant, built in 1935. The site where The Blue Note is now, 17 N. Ninth St., was where the Star theatre was before the Varsity Theatre was built by Tom C. Hill, who also owned the Hall Theatre, according to the article.

Gardner, the article reports, said an event to celebrate the two businesses could be held in July.

Gardner is a former member of the Columbia Historic Preservation Commission, which overseas the city’s Most Notable Properties list and celebration.

The history behind The Blue Note building

Yes, you’ve heard right: Richard King is selling The Blue Note at 17 N. Ninth St. But this former “movie palace,” won’t be going the way of other movie venues in downtown Columbia, Missouri. These two articles, “Richard King sells The Blue Note, Mojo’s,” and “Richard King passes torch, sells The Blue Note, Mojo’s.

The live music venue is being purchased by Matt Gerding and Scott Leslie, who will maintain its purpose and vibe.

Important for more than the most recent 34 years of great music, The Blue Note is part of downtown theatre history. Don’t let anyone tell you the building started out as vaudeville theatre. Built in 1927 by Tom C. Hall, it was once The Varsity Theatre and it showed movies from then until the 1960s, according to this National Register of Historic Places document on the North Ninth Street Historic District (Downtown Columbia, Missouri MPS) (map [see note]), 5-36 North Ninth St., Columbia (1/21/04).

This report refers to the building as one of the largest and newest buildings in that district. It was built at a cost of $100,000, or $1.3 million in today’s purchasing power, according to Measuring Worth, a website that gives comparative, historic values. It was designed by Boller Brothers of Kansas City, according to Debbie Sheals, author of the NRHP document. She notes it was the third movie theatre on that block and the second on that exact spot. The Star occupied that space previously and was also owned by Hall and it either burned or was razed.

But The Star isn’t the only theatre missing from downtown Columbia. By 1930, Ninth Street offered 3,591 theatre seats in a city of roughly 15,000. In 2010, Columbia had 4,227 seats for a population of roughly 100,000. Prior to television and now Netflix, people went to the movies much more often, according to this 2010 article, “Capturing Columbia’s Cinema Century,” in the Columbia Business Times.

Here is a list of some of Columbia’s missing theatres:

Haden Opera House: 1884-1901, destroyed by fire. Showed the first film in Columbia in 1897.

Airdome at Tenth & Walnut.

Columbia Theatre at 1103 E. Broadway. The interior was destroyed by fire and the first floor remains as a law office.

The Uptown on Broadway is now a retail space.

The Elite at 13 N. Ninth St.

The M Theatre at 8-10 N. Ninth St.

The Columbia Broadway Drive-In Theatre, where Gerbes is on Broadway now.

The Biscayne III on Stadium, where the Shoppes at Stadium are now.

The Columbia Mall 4, close to where Barnes & Noble is now.

Will the historic Hall Theatre end up vacant for 10 years?

The restaurant Panera Bread has occupied the majority of the historic Hall Theatre since 2005, and will be closing that location at the end of this year.

This could be bad news for Ninth Street and the Hall Theatre.

The building, the article notes, is owned by Stan Kroenke of The Kroenke Group. This is the same organization that owned the building on Providence Road that once housed the Osco Drug Store, a building which remained vacant from 2004 until now. Lucky’s Farmers Market is renovating it now to open as a grocery, set for opening in 2014.

The key to saving a building is to keep it occupied and working. Let’s hope Stan Kroenke of The Kroenke Group takes action.

What do you think should be in that building? If you’d like to share your thoughts, comment below or contact the owner via the nearly blank Facebook page for The Kroenke Group and the website for The Kroenke Group.

The soon to be former Panera Bread building is still emblazoned with the name Hall Theatre, which was built in 1916 for $65,000, an amount equal to $1.3 million in 2009 dollars, according to this article published in 2010 in the Columbia Business Times about the history of movie theatres in Columbia.

At one time, Ninth Street sported three theatres, the Hall, the Varsity  (now the Blue Note), the Missouri Theatre (now operated by the University of Missouri-Columbia). In fact, in the 1930s, Columbia boasted roughly 3,500 theatre seats in a town of roughly 15,000 people. At the time of the Columbia Business Times article, 2010, the city had 4,277 theatre seats for a population of more than 100,000 people.

What happened? Radio. Cars. Television. People found other things to do with their time than to head downtown to a movie. Or two. Or three a week. At one time, businessmen would go to the movies during lunch, school children would escape classes to see a flick and downtown was the place to be.

Those days of so many theatres are gone, but let’s hope Columbia residents don’t face 10 years of a vacant historic theatre on Ninth Street.

What do you think should go into this historic building?