By Mackenzie Patterson - email
COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - A piece of Columbus history has gotten a face lift. The empire building in Uptown Columbus has been empty for almost a decade. After years of disrepair and decay, the building is opening up for new residents.
A ribbon cutting ceremony was held to officially welcome the building back into business. George Flowers with Historic Columbus said a makeover for one of the city's first high rises is a victory for the past.
"We've had a lot of properties over the years both buildings and houses that have hit the wrecking ball and it's our loss," said Flowers.
Construction started a little over a year ago. Atlanta developers, Craig Taylor and Paul Stange with Empire Associates, LLC, had to gut the inside of the building to make it up to date but the goal was to maintain the original building's Neo-Classical designs. Robert Boykin, Vice President of Property Management for Thayer Properties, explained to News Leader Nine a few things have changed though.
"The building was originally built in 1896 and has served as anything from medical offices to private practices and now it's a residential community," said Boykin.
The building has 31 apartments as well as 4 spaces on the bottom floor available for businesses to rent. Boykin said using a historic building helps the city.
"It gives us a great opportunity to be able to move forward and help out with keeping Uptown Columbus area rich with history as it should be," said Boykin.
Reynolds Bickerstaff, the Chair for Uptown Columbus Inc., sees the newly renovated building as a chance to help the economy.
"Just having more people live down here is really important to sustain the growth and the support that the businesses down here need," said Bickerstaff.
Historic Columbus says Empire is a chance to learn.
"We still have a handful of properties in the Uptown area that need somebody to come along and help restore them as well," said Flowers.
However, Flowers says today's success was a step in the right direction.
Boykin said new residents are excited about the property. So far, two tenants have moved into their new apartments.
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