By: Pearson Mann, Harper General Contractors Project Engineer, Clemson University, Construction Science Management, 2018
“Old buildings keep us in touch with our past."
–Bogue Wallin, owner of Blue Wall Real Estate
This past summer, I had the privilege of working on the restoration of the Aug W. Smith building as an intern for Harper, the general contractor selected for the project. The Aug. W Smith building, originally constructed in 1920, is located on Main Street in downtown Spartanburg. The 91-year-old building served as a department store until 1983, when it then became Bishop’s Furniture. Its location, historic aesthetics and potential made it a desirable building for Bogue Wallin, owner of Blue Wall Real Estate, to pursue as an investment. Wallin described his draw to this building when he said, “I like interesting buildings that are well located and have problems that will scare off the average investor; it’s an opportunity for me to add value.”
As with any restoration of an old building, this project did have its challenges. However, this building has been proof of the benefits of landmark revitalization. The iconic Aug W. Smith building in the heart of Spartanburg will become a 45-unit apartment building with two ground-level retail spaces. The building will provide a significant benefit to the growth and revitalization of downtown Spartanburg.
In recent decades, we have witnessed the rapid growth in downtown. Restaurants, shops, bars and unique character continue to populate this Upstate community. A significant part of this growth is due to the revitalization of landmark buildings. Not only does this revitalization allow Spartanburg to expand without losing its charm, it helps preserve its distinctive history.
Most find it hard to believe that the restoration of an old building helps promote a healthy economy and clean environment. In fact, the United States Environmental Protection Agency states that more energy is saved by preserving energy already present in existing buildings rather than utilizing additional energy with new construction (1). For example, if there is an existing steel-framed core from a preexisting building, a steel manufacturer would not need to expend energy on the process of making steel for a new building. In turn, this energy can be used elsewhere for the betterment of another project.
In addition to the promotion of a healthier economy and cleaner environment, the revitalization of old buildings encourages continual growth in already developed areas. The reuse of older buildings can actually increase property values by restoring properties to productive use (2). According to Bogue Wallin, the primary advantage of an old building is that “you have a building in a location that is hard to duplicate.” This concept remains true for the development of the Aug W. Smith building, which brings added value to downtown Spartanburg and encourage continual development in the area.
About the Author:
Pearson Mann started with Harper as an intern last summer with Clemson University’s Construction Science and Management program. He will graduate from Clemson in May and now has joined Harper’s team as a full-time Project Engineer. May will be a great month for him as he won't only be celebrating a start in his graduation but he will also be getting married!