Historic Augusta Inc. announced a program Tuesday aimed at placing more historic properties in the hands of buyers in hopes of preserving distressed buildings.
The Real Estate Program of Historic Augusta wants to increase the efficiency of local preservation efforts by matching buyers and sellers. Historic Augusta acquires options to buy buildings and then sells them to preservation-minded buyers.
Erick Montgomery, the executive director of Historic Augusta, said the program adds a concentrated focus to the organization’s mission of saving distressed, historic properties.
Through the program, Historic Augusta plans to help interested buyers understand financial options and steps for preservation.
“If it was a simple property to sell, the market would take care of it,” Montgomery said. “So many people would love a historic home but you have to have a certain understanding of the significance of the historic features and of the finances that make it work.”
The first property to benefit from the program was 920 Greene St., also known as the Henry-Cohen House. Historic Augusta acquired the option and sold the circa-1853 home to Mark Donahue, a general contractor from Augusta.
Donahue has had luck with historic renovation. He converted 309 Eighth St. into eight apartments, which he says rent quickly.
The Henry-Cohen House was placed on Historic Augusta’s endangered properties list in 2010. The Italianate-style home was built by Isaac Henry, a local banker.
Donahue plans to convert the three-story house into six 900- to 1,000-square-foot apartments.
Bathrooms and kitchens will be added, and a back porch enclosed to create an additional room. A balcony will be built for one upstairs apartment on the back of the house.
“The place is in fantastic shape. It just needs to be cleaned up and wallpaper stripped down,” Donahue said.
With completion expected in late summer or fall, Donahue plans to rent the units for between $650 and $750.
Two other properties, 307 Ninth St. and 586 Broad St., have also been placed under option for the program.