Business

Law firm, software company to renovate historic downtown Columbia properties

Belser & Belser law firm will renovate and occupy this historic building in the Vista
Belser & Belser law firm will renovate and occupy this historic building in the Vista jwilkinson@thestate.com

The Belser & Belser law firm has purchased and will renovate an historic property at 1325 Park St. in the Vista for its new offices. It is also partnering on the renovation of a Main Street building that will house the high tech firm Cyberwoven.

The law firm plans a complete historic restoration of the Vista building, which is one of the few remaining from Columbia’s African-American business district. The property, to be completed later this year, is located between Washington and Lady streets.

The firm’s Freeman Belser said the building’s character and location between the Vista and Main Street promoted the firm’s move from the Bank of America office tower in the central business district.

“Pretty soon, the Vista and Main Street are going to grow together,” he said. “It’s right between the two districts and we’re looking forward to bringing the building back to life.”

Belser & Belser will occupy the second and third floors of the building. The firm is seeking a tenant for the first floor and a portion of the ground floor. The first floor is 3,000 square feet and the ground floor suite is about 1,500 square feet.

The building, which was constructed in 1929 and served as a funeral home, was granted city landmark status earlier this year. Most of the buildings associated with the African- American business district have been demolished.

Belser said that local, state and federal tax credits made the purchase and renovation possible.

“There are incredible tax advantages,” he said. “We wanted an interesting space. The Bank of America building is nice, but it doesn’t have the same type of character.”

The firm, along with Cyberwoven chief executive Ben Rex, are also renovating a 13,000-square foot building at 1634 Main St. Initially, the two firms were going to occupy that Depression-era building together, but the growth of the software and website development company required a separate property.

Cyberwoven plans to move its 35 employees into the Main Street building, located between the Tapps Building and Michael’s Cafe, when it is completed near the end of the year.

“We want to be a part of making the city all that it can be,” said Rex of the city’s growing downtown. “There is no better way to push us forward and the city forward than to be in the middle of that.”

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