When Dustin and Mandi Long saw the progress Jefferson City's East Capitol Avenue area was making and local officials' and property owners' plans to continue improvements over the next few years, they jumped at the opportunity to participate.
The Longs are preparing to renovate the house at 608 E. State St., the first property in the East Capitol Avenue Urban Renewal Area that the Jefferson City Housing Authority sold for redevelopment.
The Housing Authority sold 608 E. State St. to the Longs, with Long Last Remodeling, in November.
"I think that area is up-and-coming with the city pushing for it, and the two houses I've done have been kind of fix-and-flips. But this one we're going to hang onto and make it a working part of that community," Dustin said. "Rather than fix it and get out, we saw this as an opportunity to really get involved in downtown Jefferson City."
The Longs received an award for renovations they did to the 125-year-old home at 929 W. High St. They also renovated a house in the 900 block of Broadway Street.
The Longs plan to operate a short-term rental after redeveloping the home, located across the street from the federal courthouse. Since the home is near the old Missouri State Penitentiary and anticipated Fun Factory, Dustin said, they thought it would be an appropriate spot to house tourists.
Jefferson City plans to redevelop nearly 32 acres of the old prison and is currently accepting developers' qualification applications. Potential uses for the site include various things from a convention center, entertainment venues and office buildings to museums, restaurants, coffee shops, retail establishments and pedestrian plazas.
At 1101 E. Capitol Ave., property owner Raymond Latocki plans to renovate the old International Shoe Company building into the "ISC Fun Factory," which would include a restaurant, haunted house, banquet hall, mini-bowling, mini-golf, escape rooms, axe-throwing, apartments and lofts.
The Longs haven't done many improvements to the property yet, as they are waiting for approval to receive federal and state historic tax credits before they begin renovations. They also wanted to wait for the weather to warm up, Mandi said.
Under the Longs' agreement with the Housing Authority, Dustin said, renovations must start within four months of the closing date, which was in mid-January. They must complete renovations within 18 months, he added.
The process will "take a lot of time and labor and love," Dustin said, adding it was "a little bit jaw-dropping" when they first walked into the East State Street property.
"Judging from the outside, yeah, you think it definitely needs some work, but the main level is pretty well gutted already," he said. "It's going to need some fairly significant work to bring that back to life."
The Longs plan to stick with the historic characteristics of the home and plan to speak with the Historic City of Jefferson for suggestions.
The Longs' initial budget for the renovations is $51,000, Dustin said, noting that accounts for them doing a majority of the work and subbing out for contractors when necessary.
Along with renovating the property, Mandi said, they plan to promote local and Missouri businesses and products when they rent out the home. The Longs want to hang local art, plant native plants in the yard and potentially have local arts products to sell.
"I think it's important for businesses to support each other versus being in competition with each other," she said. "I think if we do things like that, we're supporting everybody around, as well as ourselves."
The Longs were the sole individuals to submit a proposal for the property, Housing Authority Executive Director Cynthia Quetsch said previously.
In a November news release about the sale, Quetsch said it will be "good to have the blight eliminated to present a more vibrant image of our community."
The Housing Authority filed a civil suit in 2017 against Barbara Buescher for 101 and 105 Jackson St. and Stephen and Cheryl Bratten for 103 Jackson St. Cole County Judge Dan Green signed orders allowing the Housing Authority to take possession of Buescher's Jackson Street properties in December 2018.
After it didn't receive any redevelopment proposals for 105 Jackson St., the Housing Authority — acting as the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority — is again seeking proposals for the property, known as the Parsons House. The Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority will accept redevelopers' proposals until it approves one.
The Housing Authority is accepting redevelopment proposals for 101 Jackson St. until 4:30 p.m. Monday.
The Brattens voluntarily gave 103 Jackson St. to the Housing Authority in early 2018.
The Housing Authority has selected a redeveloper for 103 Jackson St., known as the Standish House, but Quetsch previously said she could not reveal who the developer is until both parties sign a contract in mid-April.
In a separate civil suit filed in August 2018, Cole County Presiding Judge Patricia Joyce ruled the Housing Authority has the right to take possession of seven Buescher properties if the Housing Authority pays the appraised value of the properties — 500, 501, 507, 511 and 513 E. Capitol Ave., along with 504 E. State St. and 115 Jackson St.
Dustin said he thinks the eminent domain process the Housing Authority is pursuing is a "good thing" for that area.
"Eminent domain is kind of a fine line, but in this scenario, you have a lot of cool houses that have a lot of history that are just being neglected," he said. "If the property owners aren't going to step up and take care of that, I'm glad that the city is stepping in and trying to do something about it because that area over there is what Jeff City was built on, so it would be sad to lose that completely."