Developer, Coon Restoration & Sealants
Coon typically is working on 25 to 30 projects, which are made possible by historical tax credits. He believes downtowns are at the start of a renaissance and seeks to “make downtown cool again” with projects such as the Historic Onesto Lofts. Coon said the lofts should be fully booked by the end of this year.
Q: Is there a particular Stark County project that you’re most proud of?
A: “Actually, there’s probably a couple. The McKinley Monument, because that’s the first project that I restored.” He was 15 years old, and it made him fall in love with restoring old, historic buildings. “You heard the same mantra at every one, ‘Why don’t they tear that old building down?’ ” It was run-down. “We restored the whole thing, and it still looks just as good today as what it did in 1976, when I worked on the cleaning of it.”
Q: What’s the reason you are interested in restoration rather than new construction?
A: “You can’t build a building today like they built them 100 years ago. It’s just not economically feasible.” There aren’t as many tradesmen or artisans to carve stones, for example. “Old buildings tell a story.” When they restore iconic buildings such as a church or the Stark County Courthouse, everyone has memories to tell them. “New construction, the story’s yet to be written.”
Q: How and why do you try to keep the building’s original appearance?
A: “I don’t try to build it like a museum. I want to keep it bright and colorful, and I want it to sizzle when people come in.” He wants people to see shiny marble and colorful paint. It has to be functional, but not exactly as it once was. Some items may be new but look period.
Q: What do communities get from restoration that they don’t get from new construction?
A: “We’re bringing life back into these downtown, urban areas.” There are examples across the United States and in Ohio. Wooster’s downtown may be the best example in the state. “From renovating the building downtown, it’s literally brought the whole city back to life.” People connect with historic structures because they can’t be replicated. “Each city has its own landmark that makes it distinct.”
Q: Is there anything about a building that influences your decision to restore it?
A: “I look for a building, I call it, with good bones.” It has to have stable infrastructure. Some are past the point of restoration. “You can’t fall in love with every building.”
Q: Are there any local buildings you would like to restore that you haven’t or can’t?
A: The Renkert building downtown. “It’s a beautiful masonry building, and it would make great loft apartments, just like the Onesto.”