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Historic renovation wins recognition

Renovation of the 1926 Wetmur Building was honored as an adaptive reuse of a historic building. Renovation of the 1926 Wetmur Building was honored as an adaptive reuse of a historic building.

The renovation of a 1920s building downtown has been recognized by an international building managers association for historic preservation.

“I entered under the historic renovation and got it for Charlotte and all of Western North Carolina,” said Andrew Riddle, the owner and developer.

Allen Street Partners, made up of Riddle and his brothers Sammy and Scott and Tom Davis, bought the building in 2017 for $1,125,000, peeled off the latter-day facade and repurposed the old car dealership into a mixed-use project. The finished product won the BOMA Greater Charlotte 2020 Toby Awards for corporate buildings. Founded in 1907 as the National Association of Building Owners and Managers, BOMA International is made up of 87 local associations throughout the United States and affiliates in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Finland, Greece, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines, Panama, Russia, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

Riddle chose not to pursue the BOMA regionals because he recognized there’s room for improvement in the areas judges scrutinize.

“To really win it, I’m going to cut down on the trash consumption,” he said. "I’m working with Henderson County on composting (and aiming) to get 95 percent of all my waste to be truly recyclable or compostable.”

The building is energy-efficient but not yet Energy Star certified.

“It’s a pretty strenuous process to be Energy Star-certified and also to put together the correct way-finding in the building. There are a lot of different metrics that are used to judge the project.”

Built by Francis S. Wetmur Sr. as a Ford dealership, the building has also been home to Robotyper and Henderson County’s planning department. A native of Minnesota, Wetmur migrated to Hendersonville in 1910 and became active in business and civic affairs. He served two terms in the state House from 1927 to 1931.

“We’ve got some pretty cool stuff inside the building that the judges really liked,” Riddle said. “They liked the motivation to keep as much of the building’s history as possible. I’ve kept a lot of the original features. The original light fixtures used to illuminate the showroom floor — those are still in place. We kept the original staircase as we found it, the original handrails, the ceiling, I could go on and on.”

The 100 East Allen building is home to a real estate office, financial adviser, hair stylist, physical therapy clinic and the Second Act coffee shop and pub.

“They were in love with that,” he said of the Second Act. “They loved it because it bought a true multipurpose tenant. … They liked the tenant relationship with the landlord. I surveyed the tenants about Covid, (asking) Did they feel safe? I shared with (the judges) the survey that came back from the tenants. They were impressed that we were able to get 95 percent occupancy in a pandemic.”

Melinda Hopkins, who presented the award to Riddle, called the East Allen building "just the cutest thing in the world. Great job and it was a really fun building to tour.”

Riddle said he learned a lot not only about how to improve office buildings but also about best practices in landlord-tenant relationship.

“It brought to light my education on how to correctly manage tenants, manage tenant expectations, work with the city and ultimately how to have a more environmentally friendly building,” he said. “I’m not a champion of environmental policy but it has changed my attitude. To be good stewards of where we live, we have to change the culture of how we perform.”