A Beckley real estate agent today announced plans to restore a 1920s-era building on Neville Street in the city’s historic district and sportingly challenged other property owners there to follow suit.
Sarah Birchfield, whose property was mistakenly approved for demolition last year by the city zoning board, said she’s engaged restoration consultants and is applying for funding for the project with the State Historic Preservation Office.
Plans call for returning the first floor storefront to its original design, which included large display windows and transom windows, Birchfield said, and approaching the treatment of a side wall left exposed after a fire destroyed a neighboring building in 2003.
“We’re really excited about how dramatic but affordable the restoration will be,” she said.
“Grants and tax credits for historic properties offset the cost, but the cost of peeling off the later-built facade and fixing back the original isn’t exorbitant.”
“We know from restoration work we’ve experienced in Lewisburg’s historic district that there’s a good reason to restore: it’s efficient and it’s beautiful.”
Birchfield said she hopes to submit the plan to the Beckley Historic Landmarks Commission as soon as the state has approved funding.
Owners of historic properties in national historic districts in West Virginia are eligible for grants and tax credits of up to 30 percent for the restoration of their buildings to U.S. Department of the Interior standards.
A founding member of the Downtown Beckley Business Association, Birchfield said she encourages the city to continue to strengthen and enforce its architectural review process, which she says secures her investment in the national historic district.
Birchfield is one of several property owners now pursuing grants and tax credits to support restoration in the district, according to Dave Sibray, a spokesmen for the business association.
“We’re working with two other investors in the district who plan to invest in restoration this year,” Sibray said.