Wednesday, March 21, 2018

How to pay for a new roof

SHERYL AND I were fully aware of the challenges when we bought our Second String Music Building. It's more than 120 years old, and we've sunk a considerable amount of money into restoration and maintenance.

We were told this week we need to put a membrane over the fifth floor roof. And we have to address the condition of the second floor roof, which has awesome skylights and an old swamp cooler but has really become an issue. We have to constantly go up to a second-floor crawl space to make sure the leaking doesn't get out of control, and we also moved a heavy AC unit that was caving in the roof.

It needs to be replaced.

I thought the fifth floor roof would be OK for another year or two, but a week ago Sunday we had a heavy wet snow, and it finally dripped through all the way to the main floor.

We had our awesome roofer come check it out. We knew the bid would be a shock. And now we are staring at a $50,000 project. We will probably get another bid or two, but it won't be lower.

We have looked at some grant programs, but it seems like most of the historic stuff isn't for construction or brick and mortar. It's more for awnings and windows. If we are wrong about this, let us know.

Sheryl and I don't want sympathy and we don't want handouts. We have worked our asses off building Second String Music from the ground up, and we are finally starting to turn the corner from a business perspective. We still have a long way to go, but it's nice to see. And we fully understand the responsibilities of owning a historic building in downtown Quincy.

So, we have three choices. We can call the bank (done this morning), we could let the building rot (nope), or we can pack it up and head to a higher traffic area and pay a lot more rent (nope).
How do we keep her up?

What really irks us is when the Quincy Mall gets breaks and developers on the east side are lured by incentives. It's all part of getting people here to Quincy and building toward a better future, but if we don't take care of our history and our beautiful older buildings in town, we are shooting ourselves in the foot.

Small business grants and incentives are non-existent and neither of us have scads of money socked away somewhere. It's just an old building that we love and a small business that continues to grow. Are we missing something?

The downtown area does get breaks, like the residential apartment program. There is a loan program for commercial development which we qualified for, thankfully. But our joy at finally having equity in our old downtown building is dampened by our frustration at having to use it for roofs instead of building restoration. We will get there someday but this pushes it off at least 10 more years.

So ... we will continue to look for options and we know things will work out, one way or the other. And if all else fails, we can put out a tip jar next to the Elevator Restoration Fund container.

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