As two previous articles published in The Advocate examined, addressing BAD buildings is a priority for a number of county agencies. New Historic Thomas and Woodlands Development Group are two more agencies that are tackling the unsightly and sometimes dangerous buildings that are no longer in use.
Around 2011, a group of Thomas citizens began the work to clean up the city by taking inventory of the number of buildings that needed work. The first inventory included 38 properties in Thomas. Of those 38, six were demolished and/or cleaned up. Three buildings were rehabilitated, while there are two mixed-use buildings in the rehabilitation process. A mural was painted on a building shell. And finally, there are two houses currently being worked on.
“Overall we’ve made really good progress so far,” Emily Wilson-Hauger said. Wilson-Hauger is the New Historic Thomas Executive Director and Tucker County representative for Woodlands. “That inventory helped prioritize projects for owners and Woodlands,” she said.
Spruce and Front Streets are a priority on this inventory because of their visual prominence, as well as their potential for future use and historical importance. On Front St., the Sportsman bar, old funeral home, and TipTop Building were taken care of. Spruce St. witnessed the demolition of the Taproom, where plans to construct a building with 10 housing units and one or two commercial spaces are taking shape. “We’ve only demolished buildings that are beyond saving, and we’ve been careful to only address buildings that are vacant and abandoned,” Wilson-Hauger said.
New Historic Thomas brings the volunteer effort and organization to the table, while Woodlands provides the resources. Woodlands either provided loans or technical assistance to many of these projects. Technical assistance includes predevelopment costs, such as fire code analysis, architectural assistance, basically, “whatever it takes to get that project moving along,” Wilson-Hauger said.