Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

January 6, 2014

Save what’s left of the Footer Dye Works

Please don’t play political football with our historic landmarks.

The four story “remnant” of the Footer Dye Works complex is a historic and economic asset that needs to be preserved and operated by a private owner on a for-profit basis, and the sooner the better.

 It is an imposing landmark that can provide useful living space or workspace after it has been restored and renovated to give it a new financial life.

There is now a plan in place to finally offer the structure, along with enough land to support financially feasible development by a new taxpaying, private sector entity.

There is plenty of land now to support both the restoration and use of Footer Dye Works and a modern restaurant with adequate parking for both.

There are many examples to point to over two decades that show success with downtown Cumberland historic properties that were given a second life through utilizing state and federal historic tax credit programs.

 Some of the examples of successful restoration projects include McMullen Brothers/G.C. Murphy Co., the former Zembower Hardware Co., Former E.V. Coyle Furniture “Windsor Hall,” former Goodwill Building, Klott’s Mill on Gay Street and the Towers-Decatur Heights projects on Glenn Street at Henderson Boulevard.

All of these buildings were renovated privately with the help of existing state and federal historic restoration tax credits.

 All of these projects were conceived, funded, built and leased up during the time that Trestle Development had Footer Dye Works, the Sawtooth Addition, and the surrounding lands tangled up under options with Canal Place.

All of the other buildings created jobs during their construction, and now support themselves through rental income provided by their residents and business occupants.

They went from unused and unwanted eyesores and are now providing the downtown Cumberland district with safe, functional and desirable residences and workspaces, along with the financial and human activity that downtown Cumberland needs.

 The old, tall and narrow 33,000 square foot mill building was recently listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is an absolutely unique structure in this area.

It is beautifully detailed and structurally sound. Once it is gone it is gone.

Similar mill buildings have been renovated and given a new financial life while preserving the historic character of their neighborhoods all over the U.S. and the world.

They could have been demolished, gone forever. Instead they were transformed into successful housing and work spaces to meet existing local demand while preserving important architectural history.

Canal Place has recently made strides to clear the way to get it developed privately, following a locally and globally proven and successful recipe.

 The stage is finally set to attract as much as $4 million private dollars to redevelop what remains of the Footer Dye Works.

Canal Place has finally opened a window of opportunity to attract a serious and qualified private developer to restore and repurpose all that remains of Footer Dye Works, with enough land left for a restaurant with a suitable parking lot.

This can now happen without further cost to Canal Place, the city, county or state beyond what was offered for the list of successfully completed projects in downtown Cumberland.

 Please don’t turn this historic landmark into a pile of rubble using taxpayer dollars. Not now.

Doug Macy

Cumberland

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