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660 Lincoln, LLC / Neyer Architects & Engineers

Aided by the Rehabilitation Investment Tax Credit available to owners of income-producing properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places, developers 660 Lincoln LLC and Neyer Architects & Engineers have transformed an early automobile plant into a modern office building while preserving its vintage character. Built in 1915 by Ford Motor Company, the six-story plant was used to make the Model T and had several other uses over the years. It was added to the National Register in 1989. By the 1990s, the abandoned Ford Factory had become known as "the Graffiti Building" thanks to its condition and its prominent location on I-71.

Historic Photograph of the Lincoln Avenue facade, ca. 1930 Most of the windows were shattered, and bricks were crumbling onto the highway below, prompting a local newspaper to award it the title "Blight of the Week". At one point, the city proposed tearing it down, but the high cost of demolishing such a well-built building -- estimated at up to $1.2 million -- was a deterrent.

Modern photograph of the Lincoln Avenue facade, after restorationIn 2001, four real estate developers and investors formed 660 Lincoln LLC to rehabilitate the old Ford plant as loft office space. The office market was soft, but the developers believed that the highly visible location, historic architecture, and solid construction offered a sound opportunity for distinctive offices that would have a unique appeal. With the goal of bringing the building back to life, they bought it at a sheriff's sale for back taxes. Ultimately, they wanted to clean up the mess, make a positive impact on the community, and "do well by doing good." Close cooperation by the development, design, construction, and marketing teams during the course of the project contributed to its success. In addition, efforts to build community awareness about the project yielded substantial publicity and support. The $10.5 million project has contributed to revitalization of the surrounding neighborhood, as well. The project is fully leased at market-rate or above-market-rate rents, an indication of its success.

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