“We’ve already decided that we’re going to tear that building down and make it a parking lot,” Mr. Haskell blurted before I could begin. He shouted, “It’s already decided, young man.” He glared at me.
“Buildings like yours qualify for federal income tax credits of 25% of the cost of renovation, a dollar for dollar reduction of federal taxes. These credits could make renovation of your building a lucrative investment. Porter, White and Yardley used credits to renovate the Steiner Building at 21st and First Avenue North. ONB’s staff can help with the application and authorization. In addition…”
Mr. Haskell was fidgeting with his hearing aid and clearly perturbed. Mr. Beard leaned forward and said, “Save your breath, Mr. Calvert. We’re just not interested. At our age, we’re not taking on big projects. We want to simplify our estate and create income for our families.”
“That’s right. We’re not developers. We are going to make this property into an parking lot that will produce income for us and our heirs. You may be too young to understand that,” added Mr. Haskell in a loud shrill voice.
“Maybe we can help you find a developer to buy the building from you and use the tax credits to renovate it,” I responded. “It would be simpler for you. You wouldn’t have to contract with a wrecker, dispose of the debris, have the site graded and paved, and contract with an operator. Your building is one of two buildings in the city with a historic cast iron facade. Some developer will…”
“We’re going to sell that iron for scrap. It’s our property, and we’ll do what we damn well please with it. You’ve got no right…” he sputtered with a dismissive wave of his hand.
Mr. Beard said, “No one is going to buy that building. I’ll take you in there and you’ll see that it’s deteriorated far beyond renovation. We’re going ahead with demolition.”
Mr. Yeilding leaned forward and addressed Bill, “Allen and John are right, Bill. We have already filed for a demolition permit, and there’s no point in considering this conversation further. Sorry, Bill, but this meeting is over.” He stood and walked toward the door. Haskell and Beard followed.
After they left us sitting at the table, Bill shook his head and said, “I don’t think we can win this one, Michael.”
The next morning, Mike Dobbins and I were at the City Council meeting, and he motioned for me to join him in the hallway. He spoke in a low voice, “Sam Frazier thinks we can at least delay issuing a demolition permit on the Zinszer. He drafted the ordinance creating the design review procedures, and he put in a provision that allows for a six-month hold on demolition permits in historic districts. Zinszer is in the Second Avenue Historic District.”