Renovations start on historic Niedermeyer Building

Monday, September 2, 2013 | 7:18 p.m. CDT; updated 7:27 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Restoration of the Niedermeyer Building began last week.

COLUMBIA — Renovations to the historic Niedermeyer Building began Friday, starting with work on the signature wraparound porch.

The 176-year-old building, located at 920 Cherry St., originally housed the Columbia Female Academy. As the decades progressed, it served as a hotel and the MU Domestic Sciences Department. The building became the Niedermeyer Apartments in 1921.

In December 2012, a request for a permit to demolish the property was filed with the city, according to a previous Missourian article. Collegiate Housing Partners, a St. Louis-based development firm, was interested in using the space for a multistory student apartment complex, according to the article.

After a strong reaction from the community, the historic property was purchased by Nakhle Asmar in April.

Asmar, an MU math professor, owns about 39 rental properties in Columbia. He said the 32-apartment Niedermeyer Building is his largest and will be an ongoing project for the next few years.

The porch should be finished within three weeks, he said.

"We're just repairing and replacing the wood on the porch," he said. "We're not making any changes to the look, and we will not alter the shape of the building on the outside."

Other planned work includes electrical and sprinkler system improvements, as well as updates to individual apartments.

Asmar is working with the Historic Preservation Commission to make sure the aesthetics of the property remain authentic. The house was named one of the commission's most notable properties in February.

Tenants of the property are happy with the slated changes, Asmar said.

MU freshman Sam Lord has lived there since August. He said he loves the Niedermeyer Building and is fine with the changes as long as they don't ruin the integrity of the building.

Supervising editor is Margaux Henquinet.

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