CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Photos presented to the Charleston Urban Renewal Authority of 1601 Washington St. E. on Charleston's East End show a building with potential, but one that's also in need of some work.
Ceiling panels hang down throughout its rooms. One image shows a fully stocked kitchen of miscellaneous items. Random pieces of furniture are prominent in its interior decor.
Mike Gioulis, a historic preservation consultant with Main Street West Virginia, agreed with an architectural analysis by McKinley and Associates that found the building is salvageable. Gioulis said rehabilitating the property is the best option given its East End Main Street location, the potential for tax credits and the cost of demolition.
"I think that corner is really important to the East End from an urban design standpoint, from a historic standpoint and from a use standpoint," Gioulis told CURA commissioners. "I think reusing that building is feasible."
Gioulis said his historic preservation firm will likely recommend to the city the area be turned into a historic district. That would mean tax credits to those who rehabilitate properties in the area.
Potential uses for the property include a retail space on its first level and residential or commercial space on its upper level, Gioulis said.
A bit of Charleston history is housed at the property. A walk through by Gioulis, CURA Executive Director Jim Edwards and East End Main Street Director Ric Cavender revealed remnants of Lindsay's Studio -- photographs of Charleston residents and the city Gioulis would like to see preserved.
Mary Beth Hoover, who serves on East End Main Street's design committee and is Ward 11's city councilwoman, said she is assisting a group of University of Charleston interior design students that will develop proposals for the building's use.
"Not only is [the project] going to give [students] a real life experience that they need, its going to give you and give this board and give this building a new life," Hoover said to commissioners. "It's going to show the potential for any potential buyer that's going to be looking at this building."
CURA acquired the 7,500-square-foot commercial property in November for about $75,000. The purchase came after more than two years of condemnation proceedings. It was held up in federal bankruptcy court after its owners -- the Dandy Family Trusts -- filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2011.
In other business, commissioners decided Wednesday Habitat for Humanity is free to do as it pleases with property adjacent to Piedmont Park on Piedmont Road.
Habitat previously approached CURA about the property after Councilman Cubert Smith asked that the now-vacant lot become an addition to the park. CURA gave the organization $10,000 to demolish a home there with the understanding a new residence would be built in its place. It was found later that building a home there wasn't feasible due to soil conditions.