Houstonians lost a gem for reclaimed building materials when Historic Houston’s Salvage Warehouse liquidated its inventory and closed its doors last June.
The Salvage Warehouse first opened in September 2003 under the direction of Lynn Edmundson. Over the course of almost a decade, Edmundson and Historic Houston saved tons of building elements from the landfill, instead selling the salvaged goods to architects, designers, artists, home builders and property owners.
“Salvage Warehouse is a critical component to close the recycling loop,” Edmundson told CultureMap. “You’ve harvested those resources once. Why just throw them away?”
Deconstruction will begin again as soon as Edmundson lines up a steady flow of houses for her crew to work on.
The problem was that Historic Houston offered its deconstruction services to donors for free. The business model wasn’t profitable.
After the Salvage Warehouse closed, the nonprofit continued dispensing City of Houston historic landmark plaques as Edmunson sought a new job and a next step for the Salvage Warehouse.
When Edmundson was approached by a construction company looking for a non-profit partner, she immediately saw the solution.
Under a new model, a third party — at least in the beginning, Edmundson’s new entity called Reclaimed Resources — will do the deconstruction work on behalf of Historic Houston.
The third party will get paid for its services (rates are determined on a case-by-case basis), and the Salvage Warehouse will be utilized as the storefront to sell the items collected in the deconstruction process.
This structure is a win-win for all parties involved: Reclaimed Resources doesn’t want to get into the retail side of the business. Salvage Warehouse will stop undercutting its own market in the complicated and sometimes expensive deconstruction process. Donors will qualify for charitable contribution tax breaks for the gift of reclaimed goods, which often off-sets the cost of deconstruction and subsequent demolition.
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