Press Release | Washington, DC | March 4, 2015

“Preservation’s Best of 2014” Awards Announced

Role of the federal historic tax credit in revitalizing historic downtowns highlighted on Capitol Hill

Preservation Action, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the National Trust Community Investment Corporation announced their “Preservation’s Best of 2014” awards. These awards, handed out March 3, 2015 during the annual National Historic Preservation Advocacy Week on Capitol Hill, highlight exemplary historic rehabilitation projects that utilized the federal historic tax credit to revitalize America’s cities and small towns.

Congressional Historic Preservation Caucus Co-Chairs Michael Turner (R-Ohio) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) joined members of Congress representing the project winners in recognizing outstanding examples of how the historic tax credit can drive economic development and community revitalization. The historic tax credit makes feasible the conversion of historically significant buildings, generally vacant or underutilized, into viable community assets in a 21st century economy.

Descriptions of the winners are below. Questions should be directed to Preservation Action at mbaco@preservationaction.org, 202-463-0970 or Michael Phillips, National Trust Community Investment Corporation at mphillips@ntcic.com, 202-440-0899.

The Commons at Imperial Hotel, Atlanta, Georgia

The Commons at Imperial Hotel is a state-of-the-art permanent supportive housing development for low-income persons made possible by the renovation of an eight-story former hotel. The Imperial Hotel was constructed in 1911 and operated as a hotel until around 1980, when a developer purchased and closed it. The building then sat vacant for about 10 years, until a local nonprofit purchased it and redeveloped it into 120 single-room occupancy (SRO) units for low-income persons. By 2007, however, the development was in financial trouble, and was on the verge of foreclosure until Columbia Residential and National Church Residences stepped in to rehabilitate and recapitalize the property. The result is 90 larger, affordable SRO apartments, along with upgraded common spaces and amenities and a wide array of supportive services. Completed in January 2014, the $20 million project was funded by equity generated by federal historic tax credits and federal and state housing tax credits, city and state loans of federal HOME dollars, a federal grant, and grants from two foundations.

Cider Gallery, Lawrence, Kansas

Once used as a cider vinegar factory, the 15,000-square-foot building built in 1883 now houses Cider Gallery, a multi-use facility and high-end art gallery, event facility and second floor office space in Lawrence, Kansas. Completed in June 2013, the Cider Gallery is already booked through most of 2015 for a variety of events. It is the second major renovation in the Warehouse Arts District in downtown Lawrence, which attracts locals and tourists alike for community gatherings, tours, special events and performances. The $2.4 million project was funded by equity generated by federal and state historic tax credits, a permanent mortgage, and deferred developer fee/owner equity.

Building 90, Wake Forest Innovation Quarter Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and Wexford Science and Technology redeveloped three former tobacco warehouses into a mixed-use facility known as Building 90. It is part of the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, a 473,900-square-foot facility consisting of office, retail and state-of-the-art research laboratory space. The renovation of Building 90 created 2,401 construction jobs and 1,600 other local jobs. More than 15 percent of the construction contracts were awarded to minority or women-owned businesses. Building 90 attracted the corporate headquarters of Inmar, Inc., preserving its 900 jobs for Winston-Salem, and houses the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina which provides free educational and workout classes to the local community. Building 90 has served as a major catalyst for other projects, including apartments and a community green park. This $103 million project combined state historic tax credits, federal historic tax credits, and new markets tax credits (NMTCs).

Garfield Commons Apartment Homes, Phoenix, Arizona

The rehabilitation of the Sacred Heart nursing home into the Garfield Commons Apartments and veterans transitional housing facility is an exemplary achievement in historic rehabilitation. Constructed in 1960 and designed by prominent Phoenix architects Lescher and Mahoney, Sacred Heart was owned and operated by the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic charitable organization. By combining historic rehabilitation with the creation of veteran housing and services, Garfield Commons is fulfilling a significant need in the Phoenix community. DESCO successfully rehabilitated this mid-century historic building to conform to state and federal preservation standards while meeting the requirements of the Arizona Department of Housing and the City of Phoenix Housing Department.

Oconomowoc School Apartments, Oconomowoc, Wisconsin

Te historic Oconomowoc Middle School was built in the 1920s and remained in use until 2008. Following that period, the building sat vacant, blighted and obsolete. The developer purchased the building from the school district, which added a very significant $1 million to their budget. The purchase also added the building back to the city of Oconomowoc’s tax rolls, further catalyzing economic growth. Vitality of the school was restored in 2012, when development companies Keystone Development and Alliance Housing Development LLC were awarded state and federal low income housing and historic tax credits to support the conversion of the historic middle school into 55 loft-style apartments for working families. The development team intentionally created a design that was modern and spacious, yet honors and preserves the historic schoolhouse feel. Oconomowoc was 100 percent occupied within 5 months of opening its doors, beating all projected estimates.

The Warwick Apartments, Newport News, Virginia

Originally constructed in 1883, the Warwick Hotel was the center of Victorian-era downtown activity in Newport News, Virginia, before a fire destroyed the original structure in 1960. An addition built in 1928 survived the blaze and, in 1995, Community Housing Partners transformed the remaining structure into permanent supportive housing units for formerly homeless individuals. Beginning in 2012, CHP’s in-house development, architecture, and construction teams undertook a year-long renovation to update the facilities and preserve this historic housing resource for the Newport News Community. The extensive work, which was performed to EARTHCRAFT green building standards, resulted in an improvement to the building’s energy efficiency by more than 50 percent. The Warwick single-room occupancy (SRO) facility contains 88 units, each containing a private bath and a compact kitchen area. Shared spaces include two community lounges, a computer lab and laundry facilities, as well as an electronic surveillance and security system. CHP's resident services division provides ongoing on-site employment training and educational opportunities that promote self-sufficiency, skill-building and economic stability for the residents, who include very low-wealth homeless and disabled individuals. Funding sources for the $4.2 million project included equity generated by federal and Virginia historic tax credits, low income housing tax credit equity, and a loan from Community Housing Partners.

Steeple View Lofts, Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Zamagias Properties transformed a historic tobacco warehouse into a residential, office, and retail complex in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Steeple View Lofts offers 36-affordable loft apartments for seniors, as well as street-level retail and office space. The 47,000 square foot development has had a positive effect on the community of Lancaster, especially on the senior population. Steeple View Lofts’ residents are a vital customer base to the local retail and service-oriented businesses. Many community based organizations are housed in the retail space below the lofts, including Friendship Heart Art Gallery, which is a support program for people with disabilities. Retail also features “The Arch,” an art co-op that provides gallery space and business opportunities for local artists. The development of Steeple View Lofts created 22 full-time jobs and 12 permanent jobs. This $8.1 million project was made possible by a $8.6 million Qualified Equity Investment by National Development Council and financing from Fulton Bank, including federal historic and new markets tax credit equity.

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The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places.
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