State Historical Fund - Historic Preservation Loans Help Businesses ‘Reinvent’ Themselves
Laurie Dunklee Alyson McGee
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For Immediate Release
Historic preservation loans help businesses ‘reinvent’ themselves
Colorado Historical Foundation issues loans below market rates to rehabilitate landmarks
DENVER -- The Rockmount Ranch Wear Building in lower downtown Denver, home to the Weil family’s clothing manufacturing business since 1946, was deteriorating badly in the early 2000s. The Weils worried they might have to move their business elsewhere until they got a boost in the form of a revolving fund loan of $355,000 from the Colorado Historical Foundation and grants totaling more than $200,000 from the Colorado Historical Society’s State Historical Fund.
“The combination of grants and the low-interest loan allowed us to re-invent ourselves,” said Steve Weil, Rockmount’s third-generation president.
The 1909 Prairie-style commercial building at 1626 Wazee St. now has a carefully restored exterior, as well as a rehabilitated interior that accommodates the Weil’s new business plan. New retail space and a western wear museum, as well as leased space, help generate income for the business that allows it to continue to thrive in its historic home.
“Revolving loan funds are a great resource for stewards of historic properties,” said Lane Ittelson, executive director of the Colorado Historical Foundation.
All State Historical Fund grant recipients may apply for the loans, including nonprofit and public entities, private individuals and for-profit owners. These short-term loans are available with below-market fixed rates and repayment schedules are flexible. More than $2 million in loans has been approved since the program’s inception in 2003.
“The loan funds can be used for any costs eligible for funding by the State Historical Fund,” said Alyson McGee, public outreach coordinator for the State Historical Fund, a program of the Colorado Historical Society. “They are a good way to supplement grant funds when restoring or rehabilitating a designated historic property.”
The Skerritt House, historic home of one of Englewood’s founders, was rehabilitated in 2005 by Colorado Preservation, Inc., a nonprofit organization, using a $200,000 Foundation loan and nearly $300,000 in grants. The property was resold and the loan repaid.
“Skerritt House was our first go at buying a historic building and rehabbing it with the intention of reselling,” said Mark Rodman, executive director of Colorado Preservation, Inc. (CPI). “It worked great because the combination of the low-cost loan and the grants kept us within our budget. It’s a new way to save historic resources.”
Rodman said CPI intends to use the loan-grant combo approach on future historic preservation projects.
Other property owners who have taken advantage of Colorado Historical Foundation revolving loans include the stewards of Denver’s historic McPhee & McGinnity Building (now the Clocktower Lofts), the Ten Winkle Towers and the Cornwall Apartments, as well as Durango’s landmark Needleton Water Tank.
For more information about the loan program, contact Lane Ittelson at the Colorado Historical Foundation, 303-894-2503, or visit the website, www.cohf.org.
The State Historical Fund, a program of the Colorado Historical Society, awards grants to public and non-profit organizations to preserve Colorado’s architectural and archaeological treasures for public benefit. Program funds are provided by tax revenues from limited-stakes gaming. SHF grants have helped preserve thousands of historic schools, town halls, agricultural sites and other important structures in all 64 Colorado counties. Since 1993, the SHF has awarded more than $192 million to nearly 3,100 projects. For more information go to www.coloradohistory.org.