Historic Preservation Commission receives grant for study

Thursday, December 30, 2010 | 5:31 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Columbia's Historic Preservation Commission will use $12,000 of state money to study the impact of its efforts. 

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has given preliminary approval to a grant application submitted by the commission, according to a news release from the city. The grant is pending the approval of an agreement by the City Council and the Department of Natural Resources.

Patrick Earney, a member of the Preservation Commission, said the main focus of the study will be on buildings and houses that have been restored using money from state and federal historic tax credits.

The study will assess the impact that the restored buildings have on their surroundings. These surroundings can be businesses, the government or neighborhoods as a whole. The council will attempt to "quantify and publicize the impact of historical preservation," according to its application to the city.

"It helps with the growth of downtown," Earney said. "It maintains of vitality of the area."

Earney used the example of the Berry Building on Walnut Street.

"It spurred that neighborhood," he said.

Brian Treece, chairman of the Historic Preservation Commission, said the amount of new construction is very small compared to the amount of money needed for historic preservation.  

"I hope to document the benefits of that investment," he said.

Preservation of historical buildings helps to create jobs in Columbia, the application states. Skilled labor positions and tradesman, such as carpenters, plumbers and tile workers, are required to renovate a historic building, Treece said.

He added that there is a nonfinancial advantage to renovation instead of demolition and reconstruction. 

"By preserving a building you're not using the diesel fuel and fossil fuels that would be required to demolish a building," he said. "You're not consuming the landfill space and using fuel to transport the waste, and you're not using diesel fuels in the construction of the new building."

The study will begin next year. The results will be posted on the city's website and will be available for public comment as well. It is expected to be completed in fall of 2012, Treece said.

"People want to go to towns with historic districts and buildings," he said. "Columbia has that."

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