Monday, May 19, 2008

All too often, one hears this said about a great old building: "it is too bad that there is not the money, or someone with the know how available to save that house, but what can you do. . ." We at the Historic Preservation Development Company are here to try and change that economic equation. If the community that wants to save old buildings combines small investments together with a company that wants to do the actual preservation work and has experience doing it, most of the time the project can get done and make economic sense. While thinking about what I wanted to do to try and save old buildings, and create a business, I had the thought to create the Historic Preservation Development Company. The epiphany I had was that the model of peer to peer lending could be used to save these historic buildings. I have a friend that used to put together the funds to start her own business, so maybe that model can work to buy, artfully restore, and sell old buildings. Often, banks will not lend on houses which have no furnaces and need roofs. From their point of view, and from their perspective, this makes perfect sense. It is hard to sell a house without a furnace. We will therefore skip the bank and use investor funds to save buildings while giving the investors a fair return (10%) for doing something they would like to see done anyway.

I have past experience in banking, building, and government grants, with an education in Art History, Music, and Urban Planning (who says the liberal arts degree is dead?). I am a member of Landmarks Illinois, and Preservation Chicago. I have been working on fixing houses and buildings since the late 1990’s both professionally and serially in homes I have lived in. My day job at this point is giving Tax Increment Financing (TIF) based City of Chicago grants out to small businesses.

Why is this model needed? I always like to show a picture of a beautiful old house that happens to be boarded up and about to fall down, and then say “would a bank lend on this house?”.

If there are those out there with comments or questions, I would love to hear from you.