A Coca-Cola bottling plant, once owned and operated by a local family business founded in 1903, had sat vacant since 2005 in Paducah’s Midtown neighborhood. Its beautiful architecture caught the eye of Ed and Meagan Musselman, of Musselman Properties. Together with a skilled general contractor and a supportive city partner, the Musselmans finished a faithful restoration of the Coke Plant’s exterior facade and distinctive copper dome in 2016. The interior was reconfigured to serve restaurants, bars, offices a yoga studio, and more. Meanwhile, the building’s lobby was fully restored and features a Coca-Cola logo in its terrazzo floor, a cantilevered terrazzo stairway, and a hemispherical domed ceiling 45 tall and 30 feet in diameter.
Upon its reopening in 2016, the Coke Plant now houses a diverse array of businesses, including a pizza restaurant, brewery, coffee shop, yoga studio, local artist collective, and office space for a marketing and web design firm. Federal historic tax credits (HTC) were critical to making the conversion of the Coke Plant possible, bridging the gap between what loans could be attained and what the rehabilitation would cost. Without about $1 million in federal and state historic tax credits, the project would not have provided enough of a return on investment for the developer to proceed.
The broad strokes of this story—a once-proud icon of local history suffering from becoming obsolete or neglect finds a new, modern relevance through a tax credit-enabled rehabilitation—has played out in cities and towns across the country since the HTC’s inception. This type of activity is on the upswing nationwide, and it has tremendous cumulative economic impact—proven in the recently released Annual Report on the Economic Impact of the Federal Historic Tax Credit for Fiscal Year 2016. The report shows that 2016 was a record year for the use of the federal historic tax credit and the national economic impact it generates.