Reaction to Decision to Keep Historic Niedermeyer Apartments

3 years 11 months 1 week ago March 12, 2013 Mar 12, 2013 Tuesday, March 12 2013 Tuesday, March 12, 2013 9:53:00 PM CDT in News
By: Dan Kennedy
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COLUMBIA - One historic Columbia building's fate may be out of limbo. Mayor Bob McDavid and the City of Columbia's Historic Preservation Commission reached a tentative agreement Tuesday to preserve the historic Niedermeyer Apartments on Cherry St. in downtown Columbia.

General Richard Gentry built the house for the Christian Female Academy, now called Stephens College, in 1837. Andrew Jackson was U.S. president. 

Elizabeth Gentry Sayad named off the laundry-list of hats her great-great-grandfather Richard Gentry once wore.

"He was the founder of Boone County, of Columbia, its first mayor, its first postmaster," she said. "State senator in first legislature that met in Jefferson City."

In recent months, there's been speculation that a St. Louis student housing developer had plans to buy and tear down the four-story building and build a 15-story student apartment complex in its place. For perspective, the two tallest buildings in downtown Columbia include Paquin Towers at 15 stories and the Tiger Hotel at 10 stories. 

But Collegiate Housing Partners announced Tuesday it will sell the historic property to MU Math Professor Nakhle Asmar for an undisclosed amount. Asmar wouldn't talk to KOMU 8 News. And for now, the structure stays standing.

"We've listened to your concerns," said Brandt Stiles of CHP. "One of our company's core principle's is being a big community developer and listening to the community plays a large role in that."

And now, the historic home at Tenth and Cherry Streets is preserved.

"This building catches people's eyes, you know," said Tenant Henry Lowe. "My windows are always open and I always hear people asking what it is."

Lowe will continue living at the Niedermeyer apartments and Gentry's great-great-grandfather's legacy lives. 

'If a community doesn't know its stories, it has no history," said Sayad. 

Local Realtor Brent Gardner is a member of the Historic Preservation Commission. He said unlike other preservation projects he's worked on, everyone wanted to see the Niedermeyer stay.

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