If Historic Tax Credits Don’t Turn You On – What About Unbreathable Paint?

Booker T. Washington Theater

However, you spent this past Tuesday, it wasn’t as much fun as what I got up to. I attended a Historic Tax Credit and Main Street Seminar at the Booker T. Theater. If that doesn’t make you weak in the knees, I don’t know what else to suggest. I mean a discussion about breathable and unbreathable paint!  Looking at slides of historical old homes with moisture damage and termites?  Kevin Harris gave us information about types of available Downtown Rocky Mount Building Assistance Programs. Peter Varney talked and led a tour of the Douglas Block area that was filled with valuable Varney first-hand information and an incredible institutional memory. Naomi Riley presented the Main Street Program in the afternoon which we’ll talk about another time.”It was a Way Cool! day.”

David Wise and Stepheny -speakers for The Professional Women’s quarterly meeting

Good News: New city Business and Downtown Development Coordinator David Wise, one of three new hires for the City, devised this workshop as part of celebrating Preservation month. You are going to enjoy knowing and benefiting from David’s expertise. He is an idea man. You will have to catch hold of his shirttail to restrain him or else let him take you up into the atmosphere of exciting possibilities for Main Street’s future. Will Deaton, Director of Development Services and Stephanie Goodrich, Senior Planner, complete the trinity of accomplished, educated, focused professionals who have hit the track running. They are great additions to the Saving Main Street efforts. Hallelujah.

Reid Thomas, a restoration specialist

The seminar featured Reid Thomas, a restoration specialist with the State Historic Preservation Office. Besides paint and termites and moisture damage, he spoke about historic preservation incentives at the state and federal levels.  He is a valuable resource with endless advice in downtown preservation efforts.

The Important Stuff:  There is a 20 percent federal tax credit and a 15 percent state tax credit for rehabilitating commercial or income-producing properties. The state will offer a 5 percent bonus if the property is in a county that the state Commerce Department considers economically distressed. Nash and Edgecombe counties are on that list.  A 5 percent bonus if the property has industrial structures that have been at least 65 percent vacant for two years. You are looking at a 35 to 45 percent tax credit, a large saving.

People can spread out the federal and state credits over time. The property needs to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, either individually or in a historic district. The property also needs to meet standards set by the federal secretary of the interior. As for residences, homeowners may receive a 15 percent state tax credit for rehabilitating non-income-producing properties. This is a ‘once over lightly’ summation of the seminar, and there will be more opportunities like this in the future. It’s a good day when I learn something new. I intend to learn more about the world of historic tax credits, so important in preservation efforts. There is room for you in all of this. Join me.

 

We Celebrate a New Downtown Business – NABS – May 20th, 2019

On Friday I attended the soft opening of the new Deli and Coffee Shop, NABS – (Never A Better Sandwich). I walked into the dream of Yalem Kiros. I had a wonderful experience and so will you. Yalem is a native of Ethiopia, one of the world’s leading coffee producing countries. We know this lovely woman and cheerleader for Main Street because she and her husband, Ed Riley own The Prime Smokehouse, a destination with great food, wonderful service, and hospitality. Now NABS has been created from the dreams of Yalem, with her spirituality and love of people. NABS is a new gathering space for those living and working downtown, and everybody else looking for a great atmosphere, location, and a place to just ‘be.’

NABS will be offering fresh baked goods in the morning, as well as eggs. After breakfast, the deli menu plans to offer club sandwiches, combo sandwiches, jumbo sandwiches, meatball sub sandwiches, Reuben sandwiches, and chili dogs.
NABS also plans to offer Caesar salads, chef salads, grilled chicken salads, tuna salads and more than half a dozen kinds of soups.

 

On the coffee shop side, NABS plans to offer cappuccinos, frappes and lattes and a variety of teas as well as hot chocolate and spiced apple cider.

 

 

Officially open for business Monday, May 20
For now, NABS will be open from 7 a.m. to approximately 3-4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 8 a.m. to approximately 2-3 p.m. on Saturdays.

 

“There is nothing like a dream to create the future.”
Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

 

Every time a new business opens dreams manifest themselves.  Welcome to this newest dream on Main Street, and to the historic Douglas Block. Thank you, Yalem for helping to build Rocky Mount’s future. See everyone there!

 

Celebrating A New Investor – 131 and 135 SE Main Street – A New Life

Easter Week: Rocky Mount, NC – Beautiful Day on Main Street. Gorgeous pink Iris blooming in my garden. The gift of Lent this year; to realize that I need to stip away things, that in the end, do not matter. Monday night’s Council meeting (4-22-19) threatened to reel me in with the “How dare you” speech, and what followed afterward, but today I am sitting on a Main Street bench celebrating a new investor who is helping save Main Street. You and I, we must keep our eye on the ball and let those in charge of investigating bad manners and self-serving decisions bring the bad gals and guys to justice.  (Definition of keeping one’s eye on the ball: to continue thinking about or giving attention to something important: to stay focused.)

Join Andrew Clark, Rental Property Investor from Raleigh, NC sitting with me on a bench out in front of his two newly acquired commercial buildings on SE Main Street. Andrew lives in Raleigh with his wife, who is a scientist at RPT, and a new December born baby. He was drawn to the affordability of our Main Street property for investment.      Now, this is important!

Andrew shares with us: Active investors are all over Rocky Mount. I can personally attest to having friends who have in the last 18 months purchased 15 + downtown commercial buildings, 150+ single family homes, and many multifamily units. My wife and I bought two commercial properties on Main St (Music City & Lights buildings). We are currently doing full gut rehabs on both buildings financed by a local Rocky Mount bank. We will have two 2000sqft+ luxury lofts on the second floors and two commercial spaces on the bottom. We plan to attract restaurants on the bottom of each of these buildings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Rocky Mount story as seen and told through Andrew’s eyes calls to other investors and should energize us anew to believe in the revitalization of downtown. Rocky Mount has opened its 165,000 sqft indoor Event Center which can seat 4000+ people. It is literally 2.5 blocks from my buildings. That will become an economic powerhouse of the downtown area. The Event Center is NCAA certified, can host 16 volleyball courts, 8 basketball courts, music concerts, and has a video arcade, a ropes course. All of this is walkable to downtown.

Rocky Mount Mill has purchased entire streets and renovated all the houses (front porch rockers and kegerator included in all houses), they have 60+ condos they are currently renting/renovating inside the mill, and they have a community of 20+ TINY HOUSES they will be renting out soon. It not only sounds wonderful when Andrew talks about Rocky Mount, but it is wonderful. This is a fraction of other properties and projects that are being worked on in and around Main Street. (MacHaven is opening soon, one of the stars in Rocky Mount’s architectural crown.) We are blessed to have investors like Andrew Clark, saving two more buildings – Hallaluh!

NEXT TIME – Paul Bynum Kyser and family and the Kyser Drugstore

 

‘The Telegram E-Mail Reveal’ Supports My Position

Paul Wolf is an attorney that writes about local government. He lists seven signs that indicate when a local government is dysfunctional with polarizing leadership. Rocky Mount City Council and attending leadership tick off every sign that is listed. Until this investigation ends, we cannot go forward allowing additional opportunities for the same people to keep on doing the wrong thing. Leading that list is the Tarboro Street site for low-income housing, which is the wrong solution built on the wrong site. When the investigation proves that grants and matters with HUD  and all the other skullduggery actually happened, there will be reprisals. There is also the matter that the Council and Mayor and others have been complicit; they’ve either been a part of it or have known what has been going on. There’ll be new leadership in the fall. When those responsible for graft and mismanagement are removed we will no longer be distracted from giving our attention to the fascinating job of preserving Main Street and our neighborhoods and promoting and encouraging the economic drivers coming our way. Affordable housing can be determined when it is no longer under the guise of bait and switch with ECC and put forward by those who have ‘done us wrong.’ We are expecting new arrivals that we must get ready for and who will need welcoming. We’ll get on with the invigorated preservation of our architectural assets. It is an exciting time, let’s get back to enjoying it and celebrating all our blessings. This is one of the many thresholds moments in our lives, right now, to step across into what the future holds that can be positive and beneficial for everyone. I believe this! If you believe, you must clap your hands. (according to Peter Pan and Stepheny)

Ivory tower effect. When self-important elected officials make decisions in a vacuum or otherwise barricade themselves in their offices, that creates a nasty cultural divide between management and employees. Not enough elected officials understand or listen to employees as part of their decision making process.

Warring Factions. In some communities feuds along with the political party, lines are commonplace and accepted as just the way government works. Warring factions are dysfunctional, divisive and they foster rivalry instead of cooperation.

Strategy du jour. When dysfunctional elected officials consistently overreact to a single data point and take the entire organization in a new direction. Often the result of the hallway or ad-hoc meetings in obscure places and making decisions in the absence of those who are actually responsible for that sort of thing.

Analysis paralysis. When elected officials, especially from warring factions, chronically debate issues to death, going down one rat hole or knock-down, drag-out fight after another without actually making decisions because there’s no clear leadership to drive consensus.

Walk on water behavior. When leaders either consciously or subconsciously hoist certain groups up on pedestals while denigrating others. Besides being divisive, that also creates “walk on water” behavior where exalted groups aren’t subject to standard processes like budgeting, for example.

Silo mentality. When teams, departments or entire divisions act as if they’re independent of the rest, usually in a defensive “it’s us against them” sort of way when fighting for resources. Often the result of being denigrated by dysfunctional and divisive elected officials. A.k.a. “bunker mentality.”

Pet Project. Usually supported by an elected official — that’s immune to criticism and the government’s standard processes. In other words, it continues to be funded long after it shouldn’t.

 

Dang and Blast To The Tarboro Housing Street Project – Something Fabulous Is Happening – The Preservation of the First National Bank – Soon to Open Larema Coffee

“It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn’t use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like “What about coffee at Larema Coffee Shop?”
A. A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh, and S.F. Houghtlin

I’m in the doldrums over this wrong solution for more affordable housing. When people have told me I can’t stop it, I refuse to believe it. Of course, I can! Can’t I? Move the cluster housing to Crossroads at 64,  In the now famous words of Lige Daughtridge, “We can build a grocery out there.” He is a much nicer person than I am. In the mood I’m in, I would edit his funny, logical, wonderful line to say, “We can build a damn grocery for heaven’s sake!” His reasoned line sounds nicer, BUT, I’m a  little? emotional when it comes to promoting what I believe to be the right solution. Save our neighborhoods by restoring the affordable housing we have that longs to be a useful and safe home to the singles, couples, workforce, retired, elderly and those new to the area.

The only thing that will help all of us in this moment of anger over another ‘decided upon and wrapped with a bow’ project is to celebrate together a great thing that IS happening on MAIN STREET. A gorgeous commercial architectural building has been reclaimed, history and all. I’m celebrating this investment, this new business, and the new owner, Kevin McLaughlin’s belief in the revitalization of downtown, which is the purpose of this blog. Though I can’t refrain from crossing the threshold into politics, political junkie that I am, my part in the chorus that we have talked about, is to proclaim the Good News of a coffee shop and community space in downtown Rocky Mount, North Carolina. The Coffee house is named, Larema, a word Kevin learned in Uganda which means, “my friend.”  Don’t you love it already?
.
Kevin says “The vision is for a safe, welcoming space for people to come together, see and be seen, hear and be heard, and enjoy delicious, hand-crafted beverages and foods. It is my belief that exposure to and appreciation of people and perspectives different than our own is essential to our growth as humans. This belief is what planted the idea in me over 10 years ago, and has caused me to seek out cafés everywhere my travels take me. I want to create a dynamic space which fosters these kinds of connections and conversations in Rocky Mount, a diverse city with a rich history – presently on the cusp of a rebirth.”

 

Constructed in 1910, the building housed First National Bank, prosperous furniture and undertaking businesses, and an underground pool hall speakeasy. Most recently, the building was used by Edgecombe Community College for classes prior to opening a new campus across the street.

 

I took these three photos when Jesse Gerstl (our investment her0 and really good guy) took me through this building. The other photos I lifted from the Larema Facebook Page. You are going to elevate off the floor when you see the interior of this building, What a place to gather. Saving this building is like winning the lottery for Rocky Mount. Here is FYI on THE VAULT: From centerpiece of the bank to the focal point of the coffee shop. The original vault’s interior space will be made available for the community to hold meetings at Larema. The vault was manufactured by Diebold Safe & Lock Co., founded in Cincinnati, Ohio (Larema owner Kevin’s birth city) in 1859. Made popular in the wake of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, Diebold vaults and safes have an unparalleled reputation for protecting valuables from threats like hurricanes, fires, and bank robbers. Once used to keep the money safe, the vault will now be a safe space for conversation and collaboration.

Glass blocks lining the sidewalk are not only beautiful and one of a kind in Rocky Mount, but they also allowed light to enter the basement for liquor production during prohibition. Kevin says this is something to think on – and sit above – as we share a cup of coffee outside. Don’t you think it would be ‘way cool’ to have a prohibition party once a year with appropriate clothing and music? Our coffee will be laced with the new friendships Kevin is serving.

 

I assume these are Kevin’s boots ready to take the step from the past into the future. It is a preservation dream come true for all of us. This is the kind of restoration that is a positive economic driver for Rocky Mount. Welcome, Kevin hardly says enough. Thank you is a good start.

 

 

 

‘OUR’ NEW FRIEND

Rocky Mount – “This Is Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile” – Any More

Bob Houghtlin, my late husband, spent all but a few years of his working career at the same company – Leo Burnett Advertising in Chicago, IL. He wore a suit and tie every day. Usually, he rode the Northwestern Train into Chicago from Winnetka, IL. and walked across the Loop to the same building. I’m proud to say that he became one of the five Media Director-Vice Presidents in the company and was responsible for Leo Burnett’s largest client: Phillip Morris. Here is one variation of a working career you recognize from way back when.

 

Do you remember the line from this Leo Burnett ad, “This Is Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile?” I’ve spent time with an amazing young man that John Jesso courted and enticed to Rocky Mount. His name is Jesse Gerstl.  He is a managing partner at LarGerKo. This successful man was wearing a tee shirt, pegged blue jeans and a pair of tennis shoes. His office is where ever he happens to be and he usually has a phone in his hand. He and others like him are investing millions of dollars in Rocky Mount, NC. Jesse is the new “Oldsmobile.” As I followed him in and out of commercial buildings on Washington Street, up flights of stairs, through the Carlton House that is being brought back to life in an exciting way, I wish you had been with me. The new entrepreneur may not be wearing a coat and tie, but I definitely caught sight of a  Superman’s cloak as Jesse shared his Rocky Mount projects.

 

Come and sit with me on a bench downtown, and we can discuss the far-reaching implications of the verse – Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. We need these hosts of angels like Jesse Gersti who are preservation-minded, are bringing a new vision, a new economic reality. This is the new version of that old Oldsmobile. The community is thankful for the Jesse Gersti-like investors that have embraced our amazing commercial architecture and are helping to save the buildings. Properties such as the Carleton House where new memories will be made in the reimagined, restored and preserved space thanks to Jesse and his investment group,

BE SURE TO SCROLL DOWN TO READ COMMENTS LEFT BELOW