Revitalization

New Allotment Allows for Additional Historic Rehabilitation Projects

Posted on: February 24th, 2011 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Written by Erica Stewart

Baltimore's American Brewery building. (Photo: Paul Burk)

Baltimore's American Brewery building. (Photo: Paul Burk)

Today was a good day for fans of historic real estate development. This morning, the National Trust’s historic real estate investment subsidiary, the National Trust Community Investment Corporation (NTCIC) was awarded $29 28 million in New Markets Tax Credit authority by the CDFI Fund of the U.S. Treasury. This means that NTCIC can continue to utilize this tax credit to help finance the rehabilitation of vacant or underutilized historic buildings which bring essential jobs, tax revenue and goods and services to low-income neighborhoods.

Equally exciting was the fact that the announcement ceremony was held at the American Brewery building, a structure that underwent a $23 million historic rehabilitation that was financed in part by NTCIC’s $5.3 million historic and New Markets Tax Credit equity investment. Completed in 2009, the project converted a five story, Italianate-style brewhouse built in 1887 and that had stood vacant for thirty years into stunning program and office headquarters space for Humanim, Inc. Humanim is a 40 year old nonprofit organization that provides educational, vocational and clinical service programs for individuals with developmental, emotional, neurological and physical disabilities.

One of the completed interior spaces in the American Brewery building. (Photo: Paul Burk)

One of the completed interior spaces in the American Brewery building. (Photo: Paul Burk)

The rehabilitation generated significant tax revenues, construction jobs and household and business income in a severely underserved community: the neighborhood is part of a census tract with a 51% poverty rate and an unemployment rate more than four times the national average. Once completed, Humanin relocated its 250 employees to the American Brewery building and hired locally to fill an additional 40 jobs.  Moreover, the return of the American Brewery building as a proud anchor for the neighborhood, where it had been an eyestore for so long, gives a tremendous boost to community pride and optimism that better times lie ahead.

NTCIC President John Leith-Tetrault expressed his enthusiasm for the project in his remarks at the ceremony, saying, “If you are in our business: demonstrating that historic buildings can play an important role in revitalizing low-income communities, it doesn’t get any better than this.”

Erica Stewart is the outreach coordinator for the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Communications and Marketing department.

Updated 2/27/2011 to reflect correct allocation amount.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

The “Energy-Saving House” That Saves History—and Maybe Our Future, Too

Posted on: December 10th, 2010 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 1 Comment

 

Written by Erica Stewart

Knox Heritage, the National Trust’s citywide preservation partner in Knoxville, Tenn. is demonstrating with their latest project that preservation is not only green, but also on the cutting edge of sustainable technologies. It’s so-called “Green House” historic rehab strives to illustrate how historic preservation principles can be compatible with new energy-saving technologies, keeping preservation at the forefront of advances in building materials and systems.

Knox Heritage (KH) has a long history of acquiring and rehabbing neglected single family Victorian-era homes for re-sale in Knoxville’s historic districts. It’s most recent work is concentrated in World’s Fair Park in the Historic Fort Sanders neighborhood, which is considered an inner-city neighborhood. Here KH has worked with development partners, Cardinal Development and Kinsey Probasco Hays to rehab and sell six historic homes.

In honor of this partnership, the development firms donated a circa 1880s house to Knox Heritage for its rehab, which KH has decided to make its first LEED-for-Homes-certified historic rehabilitation. That Knox Heritage chose this house in particular to serve as a demonstration project is poignant. During the 1982 World’s Fair the house was refurbished, along with the six Victorian houses around it, to host visitors from around the globe. It was known as “The Energy Saving House” since it was designed to demonstrate the latest technology for conserving energy.

Unfortunately, retaining the home’s historic fabric was completely disregarded. Nearly all of the interior detailing was removed and the original floorplan was altered drastically. All the windows were replaced. The east and north sides of the house sprouted a metal and glass atrium and solar panels and skylights were visible on the roof. The priority was clearly new technology, not the house’s historical integrity.

Today, with funding from the City of Knoxville’s Solar America Cities program, (a U.S. Department of Energy program bestowed on 25 cities) and numerous sponsors (including the National Trust Loan Fund), volunteer experts, and supporters, the house will again be a demonstration of energy efficiency—but this time, while also respecting its historical character. In fact, great care is being taken to return historical elements to the property using salvaged materials, including historic trim, doors and flooring. Exterior siding and roofing and windows have been replaced with historically appropriate and salvaged materials.

Equally painstaking has been the selection of energy-efficient systems and solar technologies that maintain the aesthetic appeal and historic character of the property. For example, the hot water system is being installed under the roofing material to gather thermal energy, and a photovoltaic film—the same color as the traditional standing seam metal roof—will be applied to generate power that will be purchased by the regional power company. This is a solar solution that many historic homeowners can consider and is fully approved by the Knoxville Historic Zoning Commission.

Recycled materials that were manufactured within 500 miles are also being sourced for the project, such as recycled cellulose insulation. The product has a small carbon footprint, reduces heat loss and provides a useful sound buffer for its future residents. Other touches include low-flow water fixtures and CFC lighting.

But it isn’t only the future residents who will benefit from this effort. To ensure greater awareness of green technology that is compatible with preservation goals, Knox Heritage has organized educational sessions for local/regional contractors and open house events for its members and local citizens. Furthermore, the project is part of a study by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory to measure its energy-efficiency (Knox Heritage is hoping to demonstrate a 50% reduction in energy consumption). The Green House’s data will be compared to other homes in the study that have been rehabbed in a similar fashion: making the building more air-tight; weatherizing the attic, crawl space and windows; upgrading heating and cooling units, water heaters, appliances and lighting; and installing solar technology.

Regardless of the actual study results, the Green House stands as an opportunity for other builders, architects and homeowners to learn from and as an inspiration to incorporate its lessons.

Now that would be a green house effect to be proud of.

For a video tour of the project and the Green House’s supporting cast and star performers, watch Knox Heritage’s You Tube video below. Find Knox Heritage on Facebook, Twitter or on the web for updates.

(oh, and that gold geodesic dome visible in the video is not a rooftop installation on the Green House, but rather the “Home of the Future” built for the 1982 World’s Fair.)

Erica Stewart is the outreach coordinator for the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s community revitalization department.

Editor's Note: Due to an Internet outage at National Trust headquarters, this was posted by phone. Apologies for any typos or errors with the photo or video. Links and author information will be added when the Internet is again available. Updates made December 13, 2010.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

A Second Chance at Rehabilitation: Salem’s Old Jail Comes to Life

Posted on: October 29th, 2010 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

This is the latest in a series of posts celebrating the 10th anniversary of the National Trust Community Investment Corporation (NTCIC) by sharing some of its biggest successes.

Written by Erica Stewart

The Old Salem Jail, before restoration.

The Old Salem Jail, before restoration.

Say “Salem, Massachusetts,” and of course, the Salem Witch Trials springs to mind. There are ample reasons to think Salem might have some wronged spirits still haunting the place. And among those inclined to think so, the Old Salem Jail had the reputation for being one of the most haunted sites in town. But now, thanks to a $10.7 million historic rehabilitation, the jail site is now synonymous with 50 St. Peter Street, an award-winning complex of 23 upscale apartments, a restaurant, and a museum that immortalizes the jail’s history and its imposing architectural impact.

Originally built in 1813, the hulking granite main jail building held 100 cells and witnessed 50 hangings under its roof. The jail is joined by a Federal-style jail master’s house, a wooden carriage house, and the Howard Cemetery, scene of many executions, including one famous one. Amid complaints of crowding and small cells, a federal judge closed the jail in 1991, ruling it unfit for human habitation. It was the oldest continually operating jail in the country at the time. The site was given to the city of Salem in 1999 and an RFP process began but no qualified bids were received. Ultimately, the Redevelopment Authority took ownership and awarded developer, New Boston Ventures the right to develop the site in 2006.

Envisioning high-end apartments in a jail that had been left abandoned for two decades amid aggressive weeds and barbed wire fences was ambitious, but actually pulling off the transformation was bolder still. The project was beset by numerous challenges, not the least of which was the bottom falling out of the economy in 2008.

“We had so many things happen that I think would have scared off a lot of people,” said David Goldman, founder of New Boston Ventures, the developer that invested in the renovation. “The economy alone, I think a lot of people thought we were crazy at different points during the project.”

The Old Salem Jail, after restoration.

The Old Salem Jail, after restoration.

That poor economy led Goldman to change development plans midstream, dropping the for-sale condominium idea in favor of marketing the units as rental housing for at least five years, which would enable the project to qualify for federal historic tax credits. The tax credit represented a significant equity infusion once an investor was found for the credit, a transaction that was brokered by the National Trust Community Investment Corporation. The result was $2.3 million in essential cash to the project during construction.
Goldman also enjoyed the unwavering support of the Mayor’s Office, the jail’s neighbors, and the citizens of Salem. Mayor Kim Driscoll shared his belief that the rehabilitation of the jail was a major opportunity for Salem, and that it had to be done right. Goldman worked hard to make sure the site bore the stamp of its history, and was not some “vanilla” apartment complex that was devoid of the significance of its surroundings.

The developer has certainly succeeded in avoiding a cookie-cutter luxury development. The rehab created 23 units of housing in three structures: the 1813 building, the jail master’s house and a new building that replaced the unsalvageable carriage house. The original jail house units enjoy high ceilings, 14-foot windows, and walls of exposed brick and granite. Outside of each unit’s entry door hangs one of the jail’s original cell doors. The old granite jail floor was reused as landscape pavers for the outdoor courtyard. The spiral staircase that led up to the catwalk of the second floor jail cells remains.

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The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

 

This is the latest in a series of posts celebrating the 10th anniversary of the National Trust Community Investment Corporation (NTCIC) by sharing some of its biggest successes.

Written by Kim Trent

The 500 block of Gay Street, c. 1937.

The 500 block of Gay Street, c. 1937.

In January of 2005, it looked like five historic buildings in the 500 block of Gay Street in downtown Knoxville, Tennessee, would be lost. They would be replaced by a sprawling new multi-screen cinema complex that government and business leaders hoped would be the missing link for downtown Knoxville's rebirth. It seemed many Knoxvillians were ready to sacrifice the buildings for that ever-elusive thing known as "progress." That same month the Knox Heritage Board of Directors gathered and voted to oppose the demolition of the iconic structures, including the S&W Cafeteria Building, the Athletic House Building, the former WROL studios, the Walgreen's Building and the Gaut Ogden Stationers Building.

One phone call transformed that looming battle into a cooperative effort between Knox Heritage and the City of Knoxville. That call between Knox Heritage Board President Finbarr Saunders and Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam was the first step in finally pulling the 500 block of Gay Street back from the brink. For more than two decades most of the buildings had stood vacant as multiple redevelopment plans fell through. They dodged bullet after bullet - a Knox County government plan to demolish them for a new downtown justice center and jail; demolition for a City of Knoxville transit center combined with a theater multiplex; and general neglect that resulted in collapsed roofs and crumbling facades.

As Mayor Haslam waited in an airport for a plane that day in January, he and now County Commissioner Saunders agreed to take a second look at the project and see if a compromise could be found. The final agreement they reached allowed 45 days for Knox Heritage to propose an alternative design that would preserve as much of the historic fabric as possible while meeting the downtown redevelopment and budget goals of the city and the needs of theater operator Regal Entertainment Group.

Restored buildings along Gay Street.

Restored buildings along Gay Street.

Knox Heritage convened a task force of volunteers made up of architects, attorneys, developers, city officials and John Leith-Tetrault of the National Trust Community Investment Corporation. The complex challenge of saving the block began with a very simple design idea from theaters of the past.

Knoxville is blessed to have two restored historic theaters in its downtown – The Bijou and The Tennessee - that have national reputations due to their historic character and the caliber of performers who have graced their stages. It’s not unusual to see them written up in the New York Times and other national publications.

The Bijou Theatre opened in 1909 when the performance space was added to the rear of the Lamar House, built in 1817 as a private residence for Thomas Humes. The first floor became the lobby for the theater beyond. Knox Heritage was formed in 1974 to save the Bijou from demolition for a parking lot. The Historic Tennessee Theatre opened in 1928 as a movie theater featuring an elaborate Spanish-Moorish interior. It was constructed at the rear of the 1907 Burwell Building and its impressive lobby flows through the center of that original office building. The Tennessee was completely restored and transformed into a regional performance arts center in 2005 with help from an almost $6 million investment by NTCIC. It was one of the first projects in the country to “twin” the Historic Rehabilitation and New Market Tax Credits.

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Thinking Outside the Box: An Artful Adaptive Use Project in Hudson Valley

Posted on: October 15th, 2010 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

This is the latest in a series of posts celebrating the 10th anniversary of the National Trust Community Investment Corporation (NTCIC) by sharing some of its biggest successes.

Written by Erica Stewart

The vacant Nabisco box making factory before rehabilitation.

The vacant Nabisco box making factory before rehabilitation.

When then-Dia Art Foundation director Michael Govan first laid eyes on the vacant Nabisco box making factory, he didn’t just see 292,000 square feet of abandoned brick, steel, concrete and glass. Rather, he envisioned a vast exhibit space for Dia’s expansive contemporary art collection—including major works by Andy Warhol, Joseph Beuys, Walter De Maria and Donald Judd —and complemented by the 1920s industrial architecture of the structure. Its large, unfettered rooms, 36,000 square feet of skylights and high ceilings were perfect for a museum that exhibits monumental sculptures and delicate drawings. The clincher was the hardwood maple floors.

That was in 1998, and the Nabisco plant and its 31-acre site was for sale for $2 million. It had been vacant since 1991. The property is located along the Hudson River, a short jump from the Metro North station in Beacon, New York, though there were hardly any reasons for New York City day trippers to make the hour-long trip at that time. Beacon was a gritty, forsaken city, with a reputation (as recently as 1995) for its flophouses, crack dens and brothels—a far cry from the type of place one might expect to tempt an art foundation.

Dia:Beacon after renovation.

Dia:Beacon after renovation.

But Dia officials persisted, and with help from then-Governor George Pataki, they persuaded the owner (a subsidiary of International Paper at that point) to donate the building for free as long as Dia paid for a required $1 million environmental cleanup. A $50 million historic rehabilitation ensued, facilitated by the National Trust Community Investment Corporation (NTCIC) which partnered with Bank of America to purchase the federal historic tax credits generated by the rehab. This generated a significant source of financing, $6.6 million, which would not have been otherwise available to Dia (as nonprofits do not pay taxes). NTCIC formed a specific partnership to enable the transaction. The National Trust was also instrumental in the listing of the property on the National Register of Historic Places—a prerequisite for qualifying for the historic tax credit.

The site’s master plan was designed by California artist Robert Irwin, and retains the original character of the factory while accommodating its 21st century museum function. Irwin also planned the surrounding landscape, including a grid of flowering trees that shade the parking lot, and gardens that change with the season. The interior of the museum is in harmony with the environment as well: there are few lights other than mandatory emergency ones, so the galleries’ closing time changes with the seasons as well: 4:00 p.m. in winter, 6:00 p.m. in summer.

Richard Serra installation at Dia:Beacon. (Photo: Richard Barnes)

Richard Serra installation at Dia:Beacon. (Photo: Richard Barnes)

The result is 240,000 square feet of exhibition space, bathed in beautiful natural light in unadorned space where the intensity of the large installations can be felt. This scale makes Dia:Beacon more than four times the exhibition space of the Whitney Museum of American Art and almost twice the size of the Tate Modern in London. The size has enabled Dia to more than double the number of artists in its collection, and commission works specifically for the Dia:Beacon space.

And like the Guggenheim Bilbao in Spain, and MassMoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts, the museum has had a major revitalizing influence on Beacon. In its first year, the museum attracted 145,000 visitors, and has been attributed with triggering approximately $10 million in economic windfall to the city of Beacon and Dutchess County annually.

Dia:Beacon’s presence has had an undeniable catalytic effect: Scenic Hudson, a nonprofit environmental organization and land trust has purchased more than 2,000 acres to create a new development with a hotel, restaurants, public waterfront, a park and a network of hiking trails. A new performing arts center designed by Frank Gehry opened at nearby Bard College. The $132 million Rivers and Estuaries Center on the Hudson, an institute devoted to advanced environmental research, is slated for construction in Beacon. A theater company intends to revive a long-shuttered playhouse. Its Lower Main Street District, listed on the National Register in 1987, features many rehabilitated Italianate-style commercial buildings that now house galleries and high-end retail. One of the historic properties, a former firehouse, is now a cut glass shop also distinguished for its historical significance. The fertile farmland of the surrounding area, coupled with the proximity of the Culinary Institute of America, means a visitor to Dia:Beacon won’t be surviving on art alone, either.

So in this tenth anniversary year for NTCIC, we fondly regard one of our first investments, Dia:Beacon. Despite the 180 degree-evolution in its use, the old Nabisco box factory again represents the marriage of form and function and is driving Beacon’s economic engine, much as the factory did during its industrial heyday.

Erica Stewart is the outreach coordinator for the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s community revitalization department.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.