Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Death and Taxes, Indeed. A Summary of the 2014 Preservation Conference.

I'm so glad that I attended this year's Preservation Conference in October. First, because I got to tour the future Death and Taxes building, but also because something tells me that there may not be as many exciting projects to talk about in the future.  Our tax credits are dying.  Touring a new building that will house the Death and Taxes restaurant could not have been more appropriate.

I don't want to sound too negative, but part of the conference included reviewing the last 25 years of Preservation in Raleigh. And when you see what an impact the historic buildings and homes have had on the revitalization of Downtown Raleigh, you can't help get a little sad now that the tax credits as we know them, will disappear as of Dec. 31, 2014.  This article mentions that Empire Properties alone bought and renovated 45 historic buildings since the 90's.

It costs money to preserve historic buildings. Lots of money. So be sure that Preservation NC is working very hard to keep incentives available for restoring historic structures.  But it will take time before a new program is put into place, so for the next few years we can enjoy the projects that are being approved now, as they start construction.

Speaking of projects under construction, I was able to tour two buildings as part of the conference:  Boylan Pearce and the Death and Taxes building where Ashley Christenson will house her next restaurant/bar/venue.

Boylan Pearce was a high end department store that moved out of downtown in the 1950's. The top two floors of the 3 story building have been empty since! Hard to believe given the resurgence in downtown, but from what the architect said, a renovation has been underway (on paper at least) since 2000, with various owners.

First level of store
First level as it appears today.
It's hard to see in the picture to the far left, but this is the first floor of the department store.  The building is 200 feet deep and goes all the way back to Salisbury St.  This level is where buyers would select their fabrics.  The original tile can still be seen on the floor under the dust and debris in the photo on the right.

2nd level
2nd level
These next few photos show the second level of the store, where dresses were stored in glass cases on hangers that could be pulled out and turned around to display the various selections.  

As you can see in the photo of the present condition, the cases are still in tact (other than the glass) and are fully operational, albeit dusty.

The next building we toured was the building at Salisbury and Hargett Streets (I can't find the name for it), which was once a funeral home and a bank.  Rumor has it that it is haunted, but we didn't experience anything weird.  This photo shows the 3rd floor, which will be called Bridge Club and can be rented out for receptions, etc. The other floors were hard to photograph given their state of construction, but from everything they've said, it's going to be a gorgeous place. See the before and after photos of the exterior here.

These historic buildings bring so much character and interest to the downtown area.  A huge thanks to the people who are taking on these large projects and preserving them for the rest of us!

Update, January 7, 2015: You can sign a petition to support bringing tax credits back here: http://www.historictaxcredits.org