Project Overview

Historic Name: Upham Building

Location: 2395 University Ave W, St. Paul, MN

Client: Brown Family Properties

Constructed: 1910

Project Date: 2016

Project Scope: Masonry Rehabilitation

Small preservation projects can present big challenges. The Security Building, historically known as the Upham Building, is located in the locally and nationally designated University-Raymond Commercial Historic District. While the building’s location in a designated historic district provides access to substantial financial incentives for rehabilitation, it can be difficult for smaller projects to make use of the state and federal historic tax credits: the application process and review time can impact the cost and viability of smaller projects. National trends indicate that while the gross investment in tax-incentivized historic preservation projects is increasing, the number of projects is decreasing: fewer but bigger projects are completed each year.

The owner of the Security Building contacted PVN when contractor bids for exterior masonry repair varied by nearly 200%. The prominent corner façade is constructed of hard red brick, limestone sills, and decorative brick work at the pilasters and cornice. Over time, the brick façade and some of the window openings had deteriorated due to natural weathering: substantial masonry repointing and some material repair was needed. In order to maximize the benefit of the state and federal historic tax credits, PVN worked with the owner to develop an efficient design and application process. PVN assessed the masonry, defined the repair needs, and developed documents for bid. PVN also identified qualified masonry contractors, and then assisted the owner with obtaining and reviewing bids. Concurrently, the historic tax credit applications were completed and submitted for approval to the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and the National Park Service. Local Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC) approval was also coordinated and completed. Finally, PVN introduced the client to accounting resources in order to effectively certify the project for tax credits, and verify that the building ownership structure can efficiently claim the credits. The project was successfully approved and prepared for construction in the upcoming construction season.

PVN is uniquely able to bring value and efficiency to preservation projects. Our interdisciplinary consulting staff includes licensed historical architects, historians, and a deep understanding of the financial and regulatory environment of historic preservation.  PVN is dedicated to making financial tools available to all historic buildings, regardless of the size or prominence of the project. Commercial buildings are critical to retaining the historic fabric of our neighborhoods and commercial districts. But, navigating the historic preservation process, from assessment to design to bidding to construction to claiming the tax credits can be daunting for both first-time and experienced users. PVN provides clarity and creates a clear path for these important projects.