Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Grain Elevator: Rehab At Last

That rickety old grain elevator in my town is finally getting its desperately-needed overhaul.

Work underway: the grain elevator on a recent winter morning
I've written about the grain elevator before: how it's been the subject of an ongoing conflict between real estate developers, anxious to tear it down and grab a prime piece of commercial property, and preservationists who call it a part of my town's heritage.

The preservationists won the battle. The long-delayed first step in rehabbing the grain elevator is stabilizing it. When I drove by recently, I noticed for the first time that work has finally begun (above). Various plans for future use have been bandied about, but frankly I'm not sure just what they intend to do after this first phase is complete.

The structure is more than a hundred years old. It sits alongside some railroad tracks but hasn't been used since the mid-1950s. In recent years it's been inhabited mostly by various wildlife. But I love this old stuff, so I side with the preservationists.

On a pleasant winter morning a few years ago
Saving the grain elevator may be part of a trend. Just today, an article in the local press said elected officials here are adding incentives for owners of historic properties to preserve them. They'll do away with requirements to have properties declared landmarks.

The article did not say anything about the grain elevator. And it used landmark as a verb – "to landmark" – which isn't necessarily the same as having a property designated an historic landmark.

Still, it's a good thing. There must be, or must have been, a lot of red tape involved; the article says having to landmark a building or property is too often a deterrent. “We have had three or four different commercial property owners who showed interest (in landmarking) and then backed out,” one of these brainiacs declared.

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