AP NEWS

Progress Building is living up to its name

May 13, 2019

HUNTINGTON — The renovated structure called the Progress Building in the 400 block of 8th Street is living up to its name.

In the past year, since the building became available to tenants, it is at near capacity with several businesses located, or soon to be located, on three floors of the historic building, which is located across 8th Street from the Cabell County Courthouse in Huntington.

“On the first floor we will have Encore Rock Movement, a woman - owned startup, and Lyn-Zen Microblading, another woman-owned startup, along with The Potted Edge and Lucky Cat Design Co., which are both woman-owned, along with River City Leather. They are a craft-based startup,” said the building’s owner, Justin Randolph of Progress LLC in Huntington.

Randolph said the second floor is home to Legal Aid of Huntington and the third floor has USI Insurance Services and Appalachian Healthcare Legal Consulting, another woman-owned startup that is scheduled to open later this year.

Solar Holler had an office on the first floor, but because of its growth had moved to a different, bigger location.

“They were the very first business to move into the building, and we will be forever grateful for that,” Randolph said. “So we currently have one space available on the first floor.”

Randolph said the building has a basement, but he is planning it for a storage area.

While a few of the businesses relocated to move into the Progress Building, like Legal Aid of Huntington from the 400 block of 8th Street, the majority are new startups or new locations in Huntington.

“There will be about 30 people employed at businesses here in the Progress Building when everyone opens,” Randolph said.

Successfully getting nearly 100% occupancy rate for the 12,000 square feet of available space the building offers was the easy part, according to Randolph. The hard part, he said, was the historic renovation and restoration project.

“I wasn’t sure what I was getting into at first,” he said. “You’re talking about a 100-year-old building, most of which had sat vacant for many years. We had to replace the elevator, all the wiring and plumbing and take everything down to the bones of the building.”

Randolph also owns a general construction business called Cardinal Builders, which did the renovation work.

“We began demo and restored the brick and storefront on the first floor, put in a new elevator and second egress stair,” he said.

Randolph says the exterior of the building has been redesigned as well.

“Back in the ’60s, they did some major renovations that closed off a lot of the glass in the front and sides of the building,” he said. “We designed it back to the original 1920s design, which offers much more natural light with the windows back in place. Also, on the front of the building we restored it back to the original brick look it had before. We appreciate the history of this building and wanted to bring back as much of it as we could, while also giving it some modern upgrades as well.”

The building at 418 8th St. was built in 1922 and was constructed for an electric company, Randolph said.

“I have a picture of this building in the 1937 flood, and it was a cab company then,” he said.

The building was also a service garage for Sears and Roebuck at one time, according to Randolph.

Randolph said his wife, Phoebe Patton Randolph, is an architect and has been helping him since his company purchased the building about two years ago.

“We were looking for a piece of rental property to fix up and lease out,” he explained. “We looked at several buildings in the area, and when this one became available, we jumped at the chance to buy it because of its great location. My wife has played a major role in helping with the design of this newly renovated building and marketing it to prospective tenants.”

Randolph said an important part of the decision to purchase and renovate the building back to its original look is the state and federal historic tax credits available to developers.

“The increase in the state historic tax credit and the federal historic tax credit were so important,” he said. “The tax credit is vital to developers of historic buildings, like this one.”

The program, which encourages the redevelopment of historic and abandoned buildings, has, according to analysis from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, been used to renovate more than 40,000 structures and channel $117 billion in private investment since being enacted by the Reagan administration in 1981.

A National Park Service/Rutgers University Economic Impact report found that for every dollar in tax credits, the program created $1.20 in construction activity, business taxes, income taxes and property taxes. The research found the program generated 86,000 jobs in 2015 alone.

Randolph said the city of Huntington and its business community have all played a part in the successful historic renovation project.

“All of their support has been instrumental in our success here” he said.

Last year, after the building was renovated, members of Generation Huntington and the Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce came to the building for tours and a networking event.

“I have been a member of Generation Huntington,” Phoebe Patton Randolph said. “They feature younger folks in Huntington that are contributing to the development, revitalization and economic impact in the city.”

Jennifer Wheeler, the chairperson of Generation Huntington and also a Huntington City Council member, said the mission of the group is to attract and retain young talent in the area.

“We want to empower young leaders, and this building could provide a great opportunity to a young entrepreneur, so we set up this event so they could see and tour this beautifully renovated building,” Wheeler said. “It’s an amazing space at a great location. It’s wonderful for Huntington to see renovations being done on many of its historic buildings and bringing them back to life with modern upgrades and technology.”

Follow reporter Fred Pace at Facebook.com/FredPaceHD and via Twitter @FredPaceHD.

LIST OF TENANTS AT PROGRESS BUILDING

The following businesses are tenants at the Progress Building:

• First floor: Encore Rock Movement Lyn-Zen Microblading The Potted Edge Lucky Cat Design Co. River City Leather

• Second floor; Legal Aid of Huntington

• Third floor; USI Insurance Services Appalachian Healthcare Legal Consulting

“We appreciate the history of this building and wanted to bring back as much of it as we could, while also giving it some modern upgrades as well.”

Justin Randolph

Owner of the Progress Building