UPDATE: 2:00PM, March 12:
Mayor Bob McDavid held a press conference Tuesday to announced that Columbia's oldest building, the Niedermeyer, will likely be sold to Nakhle Asmar, a University of Missouri mathematics professor, according to Asmar’s attorney, Skip Walther. While the deal is still tentative, Walther says his client has reached an agreement on a purchasing price with the current owner, Collegiate Housing Partners and the arrangement will close “next month.” Walther says the buyer plans to preserve the original building structure, but will most likely carry out renovations, essentially “retaining the character of the property while making enhancements to it.”
According to a Columbia City Hall press release, the building was once frequented by the likes of Mark Twain and Mary Todd Lincoln. Walther says his client chose to acquire the property because he has experience with managing other historic properties in Columbia. He also said his client is concerned about the lack of affordable housing in the downtown area, a sentiment shared by those community members active in the deal. Walther says the future plans for the property will take this concern into consideration.
Current owner, Collegiate Housing Partners had applied for a permit to raze the building, with plans to build upscale apartments in its place. This plan faced opposition from Columbia’s Historic Preservation Commission as well as members of the Columbia community. Collegiate Housing Partners co-founder, Brandt Stiles says his company still plans to build in Columbia but that the company “is not ready to disclose other possible locations at this time.”
The City of Columbia held a press conference Tuesday morning to announce a tentative agreement between a private buyer and the company planning to build high-rise apartments in place of the Niedermeyer building in downtown Columbia. KBIA had a reporter at the press conference, and we will have more here and on air later today. For now, here is the press release issued by the city:
Mayor Bob McDavid and the City of Columbia’s Historic Preservation Commission announced today that a tentative agreement has been reached that will preserve the historic Niedermeyer Apartments, 920 Cherry St., in downtown Columbia. Built in 1837 by Gen. Richard and Ann Hawkins Gentry, the iconic building was the home of the Columbia Female Academy and the Gordon Hotel before becoming the Niedermeyer Apartments in 1921. Gen. Gentry is widely considered to be the founder of the City of Columbia. The historic building has been frequented by Mark Twain, William Jennings Bryan and Mary Todd Lincoln.
Under the agreement, a private buyer has tentatively agreed to purchase the building from Collegiate Housing Partners, the contract holder of Niedermeyer Apartments. Additional details of the agreement will be released pending the approval of a memorandum of understanding among all parties.
“Today I am proud to say we are honoring the history of Columbia by announcing a tentative agreement has been reached to preserve the historic Niedermeyer Apartments,” McDavid said. “The Historic Preservation Commission deserves to be commended for originating this historic agreement to preserve Columbia’s oldest, historic building.”
“I am proud that all parties have reached an agreement in principle,” said Brent Gardner, a realtor and member of the Historic Preservation Commission. “This is a complex agreement that relies on conventional financing and equity in the short-term.”
Gardner said that preservation in the long-term may utilize a combination of existing resources and tools currently available to property owners, including historic preservation tax credits, affordable housing tax credits, energy efficiency grants and loans and other programs offered by the city.