A Developer's Perspective on Historic Restoration for Mixed-Used Development
In the June Community Builders webinar, we were fortunate to be joined by Nick Kujawa, president of Kujawa Development, LLC. One of Kujawa’s projects, the Sears Building in historic uptown Butte, Montana was a featured case study in the recent report, RESTORE: Commercial and Mixed-Use Development Trends in the Rocky Mountain West.
Nick shared his experience with mixed-use development, and commentary on the RESTORE report. Here are his responses to our questions:
Q: Please share a little bit about the Historic Sears Building renovation and talk about what drew you to this project.
A: Our mission at Kujawa development, is to foster sustainable environments through thoughtful development. Whether it’s a historic building or new construction, we spend a lot of time trying to figure out what the market needs, and how we can provide that with the best building possible. In some cases, it means not doing a building.
I am from Butte, so there is a long history of our family being involved in Butte. I had been in New York City, practicing as a real estate attorney, when my father let me know about this building. At the time had been vacant for over 30 years. The city had taken it for back taxes. They had put a roof on it and sealed up the windows. When we bought it, you could stand on the 5th floor and see seven stories down into the basement.
What drew me to this project in particular was a feeling of connectedness to the history of the town that I grew up in, especially when I was living in New York City at the time. But also the realization that my money would go a lot further in the Rocky Mountain West than it could on the east coast, and I would have a much more lasting impact.
So this project was a catalyst for me leaving the “white shoe” real estate law firm that I was at, and coming out West and doing this kind of work.