ECONOMIC VITALITY - Best Endangered Properties Rescue Effort
An Award of Merit is presented to: Allison Gray and David Maurer, the Breakfield Family, the Lenoir Business Advisory Board, and the Lenoir Main Street Program for The Stine’s Ice Cream Parlor Building.
The effort to save the Stine's Ice Cream Parlor Building, located at 818Harper Avenue, began when the City of Lenoir received complaints of mold, mildew, and water damage in neighboring properties due to the severely distressed condition of this corner building. The Lenoir Rehabilitate and Make Opportunities Downtown Squad, known locally as the Re-MOD (pronounced Re-mod) squad and comprised of the City’s Planning Director, Code Enforcement Officer, and Main Street Director, teamed up to divert potential demolition plans which the building’s owners believed might be a better way to abate the health and safety violations. The owners, the Breakfield family, wanted to do the right thing for the property but did not know what to do given the condition of their father’s much-loved building. The Squad explained various options and managed to untangle the family’s emotional attachment to the building and distress about how to save it. One of the options proposed that under different ownership, many people could once again enjoy this special building. After months of discussions, the Breakfield family decided to sell the building to buyers who had the passion and capacity to put the building back in service.
Preservation architect David Maurer, and his wife, Allison Gray, accepted the challenging project and began the second historic tax credit project in the downtown district. The luxurious, second-floor apartment is now occupied. And a millennial veteran opened a modern barber shop in the first floor retail space. With construction completed and occupancy goals accomplished, it would soon be clear that this was just the beginning of what the project could ultimately leverage.
The endangered property rescue effort leveraged $228,000 in private investment, a new business employing one full-time barber, and an apartment for the district. During interior demolition and construction of the once boarded-up building, second glances became second chances for four neighboring buildings which also sold. Private investments in acquisitions now total $646,000 on the same block, and $550,000 is anticipated in rehabilitation projects. In addition, the activity on this corner helped leverage accolades from the North Carolina Chapter of the American Planning Association, which honored Downtown Lenoir with a North Carolina Great Places award in 2019.