Developer to Convert Historic Factory Into Loft Apartments
The former handkerchief and shirt factory on Ellis Street that was once converted into a nightclub and has served as art studios for years will soon be renovated and converted into loft apartments, according to the owner.
Bryan Haltermann, president of development company Haltermann Partners Inc., bought the 943 Ellis St building for $320,000 in September. Haltermann said construction on the project will begin in around 60 days and will likely be completed in early 2019.
The three-story building will contain 12 lofts of approximately 1,000 square feet per unit.
“My specialty is renovating historic buildings,” said Haltermann, who owns around 20 commercial properties in the area, including the apartment complex at 901 Broad Street that is slated to be finished in September.
Haltermann said the Ellis Street factory’s authentic loft construction is rare in the central business district, and he wants to preserve its defining characteristics as he brings the factory back to life as a collection of residences. True lofts are marked by poured concrete floors and walls, high ceilings, original metal factory windows and the absence of columns–all of which characterize old factories that have a history of industrial use.
The building was constructed in 1939 as a Marks Manufacturing handkerchief and shirt factory, according to the records of Historic Augusta, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and protecting historic sites in the area.
Such historic value can provide developers with a large incentive to renovate structures like the Ellis Street factory, which hasn’t consistently housed a business since it officially closed in 1975.
Georgia, among other states, provides tax incentives that are available to property owners who rehabilitate historic properties. Owners of those properties that will function as for-profit institutions get a state tax credit equal to 25 percent of the rehabilitation expenses, plus a 20 percent federal tax credit.
“It can make a very big impact on small and large projects,” said Robyn Anderson, preservation services director for Historic Augusta. “It can get some interesting investors up to the plate.”
Anderson is handling the tax credit approval for the project and making sure state and federal requirements for preservation are fulfilled. She said the review for the project’s status as a proper rehabilitation of a historic property for tax credit approval is still in process, but such projects typically receive “preliminary approval” reliant on evidence in the form of photos after the rehabilitation has been completed. Anderson said she’s “not anticipating anything being out of the ordinary on this one.”
“The key is keeping in mind those existing features…any of those things that essentially make it historical,” Anderson said. “Bryan is keeping all of those windows. They’re phenomenal.”
As is the case with many similar buildings around the country that were eventually abandoned, the factory’s structural design has made it an attractive workspace for artists. In 1997, metal worker Daniel Foreman began using the building as a studio and opened a nightclub called Club Continuum two years later. The club closed in 2002 and has since housed several other local artists.
The former factory is most easily recognized by the westward-facing “Augusta I Love You” mural that was painted at the base of the building by artists Leonard “Porckchop” Zimmerman, Troy Campbell and Brian Stewart in 2015.
Anderson said she has completed or is working on 17 renovations of historic properties in Augusta since January of last year, but that there are potentially thousands of historic properties throughout Augusta.
“It’s only been the last several years that property owners have been aware of these incentives,” Anderson said. “Just getting that information out is so important.”
Reach Witt Wells at (901) 319-8877 or firstname.lastname@example.org.