Traverse City Record-Eagle


June 8, 2014

Historic buildings add lots of charm, some challenges

TRAVERSE CITY – Traverse City’s historic downtown buildings offer plenty of charm, but doing business from those buildings can be both an operation and maintenance challenge.

Park Place Hotel Food and Beverage Director Michael Ruede said the 85-year-old Park Place has plenty of years behind it, yet employees and customers feel safe inside it thanks to regular repairs. The hotel isn’t immune, though, to the challenges posed by old buildings.

Renovations to the copper pipes in the Park Place Hotel caused it to close four years ago. The work was scheduled months ahead of time, which Ruede said gave the business a chance to prepare for effects of the closure.

“Yes, it’s a historic building, but that’s one of the neat things about the Park Place Hotel,” he said. “I don’t have any staff or anybody express concerns differently than before.”

The recent collapse of a column at the Red Ginger restaurant on Front Street caused Red Ginger and neighboring Horizon Books and State Theatre to close. The collapse also raised questions about the safety of other historic businesses. Dave Denison, co-owner of downtown restaurant Amical, doesn’t think anyone could have anticipated the Red Ginger event.

“It’s a freak incident that’s going to cause everyone to take a good look at what they’re doing and just make sure,” Denison said. “I don’t feel uncomfortable walking in any of these buildings. I’m more uncomfortable crossing Front Street and getting hit by a car coming the wrong way.”

The Amical building is more than a century old. Denison learned to trust it in more than 20 years in business. He said keeping an old building in shape just takes a little extra observation and work.

The Red Ginger building was built in 1899, according to a historic marker. Architect John Dancer said it was constructed in the same era and style of most downtown buildings.

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