Legacy Building in Downtown Bay City earns statewide honors for historic preservation

The Legacy Building ­– home to MI Table and apartments ­­– is one of the first buildings in the Great Lakes Bay Region to earn a statewide Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation.

Developer Jenifer Acosta says the designation means a lot not only to her, but to the city.

“The state has a map of all the Governor’s Award recipients around the state, but our region doesn’t have many.”

Developer Jenifer Acosta says she keeps one eye on preservation and another one on community building when she renovates a structure.(Photo courtesy of Acosta Real Estate and Development)Acosta says the historic City Hall building was nominated, and other buildings have received recognition, but to have the state’s Historic Preservation Office nominate and honor the Legacy Building “was phenomenal.”

Back when the renovation of the former Crapo Building started, Acosta and architect Elisabeth Knibbe, formerly of Quinn Evans, planned with the award in mind.

“She reminded me that I wanted to make sure we were going to deliver enough excellence that it would be deserving of this award,” Acosta says. “It was a really good way, too, to make sure as we were building the team that they understood the level of historic preservation that we were aiming for.”

With their sights set on excellence, Acosta says she also kept in mind the character of the community. She wanted to retain the uniqueness and charm of the building, while creating space that people could and would occupy.

“It’s been full ever since we opened it,” she says.

The building, which used to be commercial office space and a bank, is now 26 residential apartments with a restaurant on the lower level. It’s located at the intersection of Center and Washington avenues, putting it in the heart of downtown.

“We have a lot of people that really enjoy living downtown.”

Acosta teamed up with her father, Rod Hildebrant, on the three-year project that opened in 2019. Before the renovation, the Crapo building was faced with potential demolition. Now, it’s a vital part of the downtown.

Acosta says her idea was to bring people into downtown and help create the walkable, livable environment that will slow what she calls “capital flight,” and keep the downtown viable.

She doesn’t have another historic preservation in the works just yet, but Acosta says she is always looking for ways to keep Bay City alive and thriving.

“The core of what we do is at the intersection of preservation and community revitalization, and The Legacy is one of the best examples in our development portfolio that bridges history with modern-day adaptive re-use.”

This is the 19th year the State Historic Preservation Office has bestowed the honors. In May, which is National Historic Preservation Month, the state celebrates outstanding historic preservation projects. In the region, only The Legacy and The Indian Industrial Boarding School in Mount Pleasant have received the distinction.

It’s an honor Acosta says is very exciting.

“To be recognized for all of the recovery work that went into this project is a tremendous honor, and a testament to the comprehensive value that historic buildings bring to our community.”

Along with Acosta, Quinn Evans Architects, and Spence Brothers Construction were also recognized for their contributions to The Legacy. Acosta says it was a team effort, and speaks to the desire of the whole community to preserve the past and bring value to the future.

“New ideas require old buildings,” she says, paraphrasing historic preservationist Jane Jacobs. “I think the attention to detail and the quality in every project is what we’re really committed to.”