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Historic downtown buildings may be demolished [saved!]

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The Alabama Trust for Historic Preservation and the Alabama Historical Commission included buildings in a block of S. Perry between Dexter and Washington Avenues on a list of historic buildings in danger of being demolished or deteriorating beyond repair. The buildings on the west side of the street are in danger of being demolished to make way for a parking deck.

Landmarks Foundation Board President David Braly said these buildings are good examples of the commercial and residential mix developers want for downtown revitalization.

Montgomery Advertiser: Historic buildings could be lost

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A new parking deck is planned for the west side of the one-block area of S. Perry St. between Dexter and Washington Avenues. The deck will require the demolishment of parts or all of historic buildings on the block. Building facades may be saved to preserve the area's architectural history, according to city planning director Ken Groves.

The Alabama Trust for Historic Preservation and the Alabama Historical Commission placed the district on its "Places in Peril" list last month. The area was designated as a national historic district in 1984, but that is only an honorary distinction and won't prevent demolition of the buildings. Mayor Bobby Bright says he will try to prevent demolition if property owners begin restoration immediately.

Montgomery Advertiser: Fate of historic downtown buildings divides city

These are the kinds of buildings that are restored to revitalize a downtown. They are already set up for retail or office use at the ground floor and residential above. Restoration and use of these kinds of historic buildings are what generate pedestrian activity and give life to a downtown. Montgomery doesn't have enough of these type buildings left to be tearing any of them down.

Where does one begin? Deadbeat property owners, lack of state tax credits for restoration of historic buildings, short-sighted city leaders... Hopefully, worst case is the facades are preserved as part of a wrapped parking deck.

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Great news! Byron Berry, who renovated the S. Court Street mixed-use project pictured below, is renovating three of the formerly endangered buildings in this S. Perry Street block. The buildings will be renovated for commercial use on the ground floor and residential upstairs, and the rear of the buildings will be demolished to make way for a parking deck.

Montgomery Advertiser: Renovations started on historic buildings

Berry's S. Court St. renovation

SCourt_mixed.jpg

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The Montgomery Advertiser now has a photo gallery with interior and exterior pictures of the buildings that will be renovated.

Photo Gallery

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That's great news! I'm relieved to see that these buildings are no longer threatened with demolition.

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The Advertiser ran a more detailed article about the renovations today. The developer, Byron Berry of Phoenix Homes LLC, says he plans to have renovations completed within 18 to 24 months.

The Hill building, at the corner of S. Perry Street and Washington Avenue and adjacent to Berry's restoration projects, will be demolished. The new parking deck will be built to the rear of the historic buildings in the block and will cover the entire Hill building location.

I hope the new parking deck is wrapped with commercial and/or residential space on Washington and Perry, or at least built with ground level commercial units. There's already a hideous single-use parking deck right across Washington Ave.

Developer works to restore buildings in South Perry Street Historic District

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More photos from this S. Perry Street area:

buildings that will be renovated

PerrySt_Renovations.jpg

buildings to the right of the renovation projects...

PerrySt_right.jpg

and to the left (status?)

PerrySt_left.jpg

the Hill Building (on the right), which will be demolished

Hill_Bldg1.jpg

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More photos from this S. Perry Street area:

The buildings have been saved. See story below.

August 18, 2007

Developer works to restore buildings in South Perry Street Historic District

By Andre Coe

Developer Byron Berry likes to work in gunk.

For him, restoring old buildings is like opening a Christmas gift: you never know what you might find.

Berry, 27, came to the rescue of three buildings located in the South Perry Street Historic District, and on Wednesday, he immediately began getting dirty.

Years of neglect, out-of-place makeovers and absentee ownership made buildings in the district the ugly ducklings of the downtown landscape. Berry was the lone contractor to bid for development in the district and hopes to turn the buildings into showplaces.

"Look at that," Berry said after tearing out modern, acoustic tiling and finding a beautiful, pressed-tin ceiling underneath. He pointed to the rustic pattern in the long-hidden ceiling and smiled.

In years past, people who renovated old buildings put in the acoustic tiling that is familiar to many who work in modern offices. They covered wall designs that looked old-fashioned and slapped on synthetic wood paneling, Berry said with a shudder.

Some even covered brick walls with slabs of Sheetrock, only to cover the Sheetrock with even more layers of paneling.

But nowadays, people are trying to get that rustic look back, Berry said.

Preservationists were concerned the buildings might be destroyed when they learned the city was planning a multi-deck parking facility in the area between Dexter and Washington avenues on South Perry Street.

They placed the district on an endangered structures list called "Places in Peril." The list was created by the Alabama Trust for Historic Preservation and the Alabama Historical Commission and includes 11 historic structures around the state.

It worked.

The front of the buildings will be saved to preserve the area's architectural history, said Ken Groves, director of the city planning and development department.

Berry, president and chief executive officer of Phoenix Housing LLC, proved himself to Mayor Bobby Bright when he developed other buildings in downtown Montgomery.

Most recently, he transformed buildings in the 100 block of South Court Street into commercial and residential space.

Berry said he plans to turn this project into residential and commercial space, as well. A local family already has expressed interest in purchasing one of the buildings to use as a two-story home, he said.

But some buildings in the district will be demolished, Bright said.

The Thorington-Sims-Randolph-Lanier Hill building located on the corner of South Perry Street and Washington Avenue will come down. The new parking deck will be built on the back of buildings in the district and will occupy the entire location of the Hill building, Bright said.

Berry said his timeline to restore the buildings is 18 to 24 months.

"Thank goodness we didn't have to tear those three buildings down," Bright said. "He (Berry) is the answer to many people's concerns."

buildings that will be renovated

PerrySt_Renovations.jpg

buildings to the right of the renovation projects...

PerrySt_right.jpg

and to the left (status?)

PerrySt_left.jpg

the Hill Building (on the right), which will be demolished

Hill_Bldg1.jpg

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Demolition for the new lower Dexter parking deck is under way. The Hill building is being demolished, along with the rear portions of some of the historic buildings in that block of S. Perry St.

DexterDeckDemo.jpg

Not sure if the building to the left is coming down entirely or if the facade will be left in place. It would be nice to see the facade stripped, restored and incorporated into the deck. We'll soon see.

Dexter_deck2.jpg

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^That building on the left is gone. I hope the new deck is wrapped with retail or office space as much as possible. Has anyone seen any renderings of the new lower Dexter parking deck?

Dexter_deck3.jpg

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A building fronting on Dexter Ave. was torn down, presumably to provide Dexter access to the new parking deck.

Dexter_deck4.jpg

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