BAY CITY, MI -- Working at home one day, Jenifer Acosta saw her phone light up. She answered the call, hears the good news and is rushed with excitement. Acosta ran to her mother who was watching her children while she was working to tell her the news she just received.
Acosta and her company, Jenifer Acosta Development, had just won an award for preserving a historic building in Bay City.
The Michigan Historic Preservation Network awarded Acosta the Tax Credit Project Award, an award that is given to "an outstanding building preservation completed within the past three years," for her preservation of the old Bay City Times office and flipping it into The Times Loft, a set of 31 completely different-looking luxury apartments.
To win the award, the project could have been either a restoration or rehabilitation project and had to include exterior rehabilitation work. It also was required to use federal or state tax credit programs.
"I called the owners (of the building) immediately (when I found out we won) and they were all shouting 'Woo hoo!'" Acosta said. "Being that it's my first development project since launching my company, I could not be more proud that it won a preservation award."
The unique thing about the building is that some of the historic context from when it was the home of The Bay City Times is still relevant.
"Converting a commercial building into residential is an adaptive reuse of the property," she said. "Incorporating preservation means keeping the character and historic elements of the commercial building and featuring them in the new residential use.
"We cleaned ink stains from tile and grout in the historic 1939 print press space and left it exposed. Some areas were industrial in finish to match the historic use as press space. Others that were office space kept a finished and non-industrial look."
Construction for The Times Lofts began in the summer of 2016 and was finalized last month. Some of the tenants at The Times Lofts are from outside Bay County, and some are even from outside the state. There are still five lofts available for lease, according to Acosta.
Those owners that Acosta called when she heard she had won the award, Rod Hildebrant and Matthew Meehan, were just as excited as she was when given the news of winning the award.
"This was Jenifer's first development, so it was pretty cool to have our work recognized," Hildebrant said. "We were ecstatic to take a historic building like the Bay City Times office and work with what he had. The community was very accepting of that product. And we aren't like most apartments. Other apartment would ask if you want a one bedroom or two bedroom model. For us, we have 31 different apartments to show you.
"We think Bay City is a great place to live and raise your family, so to receive an award for our work here is an honor."
Acosta, the CEO of Jenifer Acosta Development, was raised in Bay City. Having a passion for restoring old historic buildings, especially in downtown neighbors, helped her launch the successful Times Loft project.
"I'm a giant nerd who's happiest when I'm finding the highest and best use for a long-forgotten building," Acosta states on her website. "I love getting my hands dirty inside old buildings, unearthing architectural treasures and sharing them with folks who value the special things in life."