Tuesday, April 22, 2014

OTR leaders, while you were preoccupied with your dedicated bike lane, 50 Ft away another hisitoric building is demoed

The demo of this historic structure on Mohawk is less than 50 feet from the proposed dedicated Central parkway dedicated bike lane  project
Yesterday after I made the mere "suggestion" that maybe we had more important issues than a dedicated bike lane on Central Parkway, I was immediately jumped on by bike advocates, 'self appointed OTR leaders', and Millennial's who suggested I was being an "obstructionist to connectivity" on Facebook. In middle of all that, I received the above photo showing NOT 50 FEET away from the precious proposed Bike lane, another historic pre 1900 building on Mohawk, in the middle of the Brewery district was coming down.

The IRONY of this sad situation is, I actually looked at that building and the one east of it to buy and redevelop as first floor retail for our design firm and antiques business. In fact I was ready to put a great deal of effort in Brewery District. The building was not 'too far gone' when I looked at it. The problem was not in the actual monies it would take to do the work to rebuild the roof structure and replace the floor jousts on parts of the upper floors. The problem was, that I could not justify the  additional cost of legal fees and hundreds of hours of wading though city red tape and roadblocks. Those cost would have added so much time and money to the final project costs that it didn't make economic sense. It also points to why we are so behind other cities in terms of downtown redevelopment.

We are on an unsustainable path of  Blight=Bulldozer and until people realize that we are destined to be a second, or third rate city and we are a national laughing stock in Preservation circles, its not going to change. There are some people in OTR that need to stop patting themselves on the back, roll up their sleeves, and start fighting for Preservation. They need to stop listening to certain city councilmen who whisper sweet nothings in their ear about how great they are , and how great OTR is and WAKE UP. The council has the ability in their application for HUD monies and other funds to change how monies are spent and allocated and until you start making their life uncomfortable, it is far easier to appease the demolition contractors  who will contribute to their re-election campaigns.

While by no means Preservation, the saving of these historic iron front facades in Louisville, at least preserved historic street view integrity
Ponder this, since 2008 when we bought our first property in Knox Hill, the City of Cincinnati has demolished over 700 buildings, the vast majority built pre 1900. Add to that number, other significant private developer driven loses like Corryville , the area around Peebles corner, 3CDC demos and private demolitions where the owner just gave up and rented a bulldozer, all the demos in Fairmount for the MSD project, you add hundreds more to that number. Put that number into perspective, If the city lined up the bulldozers in just one area ( say OTR) it would no longer exist....and you are obsessing about a dedicated bike lane project? REALLY? Maybe, we need to worry a little less about "connectivity" and a little more about having something to connect to?

Even in small town America, people seem to care more about their buildings than we do, This historic fa├žade in Tustin CA was saved after a fire and new conduction will be behind it. Here we would just bulldoze it.
The City of Cincinnati CITY WIDE has allocated only 200,000 for building stabilization in 2014, and those funds are being spent on two projects. one in Bond Hill and one in Price Hill. That's it TWO projects! While we stabilize two projects the city will demo an additional 250 properties in the name of 'blight abatement' this year. I spent more last year on stabilization and restoration of pre 1900 properties, than the entire City of Cincinnati will spend CITY WIDE in 2014. How pathetic is it that? This city, which claims to care about its historic core, gets away with demoing 250 properties this year and stabilizing TWO.

For those of you who are now suitably outraged by the demo of the Mohawk Building, guess what? Its not the only one coming down in Brewery District. the bike lane is supposed to spur redevelopment , will there be anything to redevelop or "connect" with?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Early Historic Harrison Ave Italianate Victorian hits the market

Looking beyond the remuddle one can see the elegant tower and two story bay window which are the signature of the Italian Villa style. This is a case where less is more and that porch needs to go.
People drive by this home everyday without notice. One could be easily fooled into believing this was just another late 1890's Victorian covered in a bad vinyl siding job.

However that is not the case with this home, this home is an early home on the street . Most likely built between 1865 and 1870, this home was based on the  emerging Italianate Villa style. Instead of the clumsy Queen Anne porch  there would have been no porch exposing the two story double bay window to street view. A simple set of stone steps would have lead to a single or perhaps double door with transom. Over that would have been an elegant but simple porch most likely supported by Brackets on either side. This home no doubt sat on a fair amount of land and was one of a handful of "gentleman's farms' as they were known in the day.  A comfortable house in what might soon be called the 'suburbs' where one could grow some grapes and other small crops and live the idyllic country life.
This grand confection of leaded glass was no doubt a part of the 1895 remodel. The suspended ceiling and vinyl floor needs to go however

By the 1890's this house would have appeared dated and out of style and as the Victorians were known to do it would have been updated to the more "modern' Victorian style of the day. The Queen Anne porch was added , a new leaded glass door and old fashioned cast iron fireplaces with their  gaudy gilded mirrors over them were removed for  new ones in wood with tile surrounds and gas inserts. If you look closely however you still see signs of the earlier house with the elaborate crown plaster and center medallions in the parlor and formal dining room.
Under that carpet are inlaid hardwood floors, the mantle and tile are part of the 1890 redo, the plaster ceiling medallion and crown molding are clearly part of the original 1895-70 structure.
This home is offered at 89,900.00 and you can see the listing here , While it has suffered  some remuddling indignities like the vinyl and paneling and suspended ceilings in some rooms, Key interior features like the many fireplaces are there.

One can easily see that this house is livable and one can comfortably 'camp out' while they restore this grand old house and entertain in this formal dining room.
This home could easily be restored to its 1895 period or a more enterprising restorer could take it back to its more historic 1865-70 roots. Either way its livable as is.

The paneling needs to go and the ceiling raised (bet the crown is under it). Part of the adventure of restoration is you may just find a treasure. look at that great mantle!
This  home sits just north of the Knox Hill Neighborhood and on the way to Westwood. Minutes o downtown and Findlay market.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Wanted" Preservation Hero with a "Higher Calling"?

The large tower and its front gable hint at what a great Queen Anne cottage this forlorn building once was.
Are you a preservationist with a 'Higher Calling". If you can see beyond this properties remuddled present you could own a large comfortable residence, and be a "Preservation Hero" who restores an important piece of Fairmount architectural history and be a key player in the northerly expansion of the Knox Hill neighborhood.

This was huge house, well over 3500 square feet  with room for expansion
Underneath the siding, the badly done gothic windows  was once an elegant Queen Anne Cottage on Baltimore. Built in a raised basement style to take advantage of the views of the valley, in its day this must have been the landmark painted lady and talk of the town. Yes its missing its square tower and its gracious front porch but those things can be recreated.

Stepping Stone ministries is selling this building "as is" after many years  at this location. See listing HERE . Asking price is 40,000.00 for the building.

I'm willing to help any buyer wishing to return this house to its Victorian past with free consulting and prep of a restoration plan and bid specs.

Why should you buy this run down old church you ask? You should buy it for its Queen Anne Tower, its location minutes to downtown, its a large residence, the fact that once you get rid of the shed there is room to build a one car garage AND because when you are done it should look like this.

With a proper porch and tower returned one can see how this could be the grand dame of the neighborhood.
If you have the vision, and the desire to bring back a once elegant lady to here prominent beauty, you can be a PRESERVATION HERO and part of the Knox Hill renaissance!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Why Cincinnati needs more neighborhood options to attract Corporate expansion and relocations

The proposed GE offices in the Cincinnati metro area is certainly a positive thing for the region. Its ultimate location could be teachable moment for city leaders if GE selects a suburban location over the banks and even if we are selected, it is time to have serious discussion about diversity in our housing stock availability and our "over reliance" on a market aimed at one demographic to attract new business.

Unlike other Midwestern cities, who offer a broad diversity of downtown/near downtown neighborhoods, we have put all our eggs in the OTR basket. That follows a flawed idea that all companies are startups, all companies employ 25-30 year olds and they all want to ride, bike or walk to work. This is shortsighted and ignores the actual diversity in the workforce.

Millennials are being priced out of the OTR real estate market as prices approach , or exceed 300 per square foot
Everyone agrees that OTR is a success, however, with new sales at 300.00 a square foot and the ever tightening government lending regulations, the idea that someone 25-30 (probably with student loan debt) will be able to afford 270,000 for a 900 sq. ft. condo and come up with 20 percent down ( 54,000.00),  ignores reality.

OTR's own success means it is rapidly pricing out the original target demographic that would help us attract new business. City leaders have essentially, put all their eggs in one basket. Does a neighborhood like OTR help us attract new business, absolutely. However, we are being extremely shortsighted to think it gives us some "magical edge". Every major midwestern city, Columbus, Indianapolis, Louisville have Urban neighborhoods , in fact they have multiple neighborhoods with price points well below 300 a sq. ft.

"The Highlands" a new construction development of 17 new residences in Holy Cross ( a neighborhood overlooking the Indianapolis downtown) provides options for  homes in the 300-500K range within 5 minutes of the urban core and provides a diverse housing stock for a diverse work force including families.
More importantly, they have neighborhoods downtown and near downtown that appeal to different demographics like young families in their 30's  with kids or executives who want larger homes with major amenities. We have totally ignored those neighborhoods in Cincinnati, with our focus on OTR and we may find ourselves at a disadvantage when companies consider Cincinnati

Quality built historic housing stock like this is abundant in near downtown Cincinnati neighborhoods and can be restored/renovated and priced in the 100-150.00 a square foot range offering greater housing diversity and more neighborhood choices
The time has come for us to explore redevelopment/restoration in other neighborhoods close to downtown. We need to get rid of our pre conceived notions of what a neighborhood is (much like we have done with OTR) and explore what it can be.

The idea that lower Price Hill has to stay the way it is with mostly rentals and low income, and not be a small "Georgetown" is shortsighted.  For example we should be seeing construction of million dollar homes in the incline district and restoration of once single family homes back to upper/middle class residences. The same  applies with Fairmount, Knox Hill, and Camp Washington all areas within an easy 5-10 minute commute to the city core.

Lots like this, with a view  and proximity to downtown, sell for 50-150K in most cities. We have an abundance of developable lots suitable for new construction of single family homes at a fraction of that price, meaning we can build at a lower cost per square ft..
In short, we need to be able to offer a diversity of residential product that appeals to the entire workforce, not just one segment.

If we delude our selves into believing that everyone wants to live right downtown, ride a bike, doesn't own a car, or have kids, we place ourselves at a competitive disadvantage.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Neighborhoods with determination aways turn around: A case study: Cottage Home

These brightly painted cottages are a signature of cottage home
The one key thing I observe about my Knox Hill community is the desire to turn it around. Even in the face if indifference and adversity, neighborhood turnaround occurs because of the will of a group of residents to take their own destiny under control and not accept the "status quo" that others believe it should be.  Examples of this determination are not hard to find elsewhere. One such case is  the Cottage Home neighborhood in Indianapolis which I recently walked.
Once workers doubles, today they are quality housing
Where is was: This area was largely an area of dilapidated workers cottages and shotgun houses lived in by low wage workers who worked at warehouses nearby. It was a poor neighborhood with a largely uneducated population and it was essentially in danger of being wiped out by warehouse and industrial expansion after highway construction of I70-65 downtown interchange wiped out a large swath of warehouses just west of it. In fact had the freeway gone just a few blocks further east it would have wiped the neighborhood from oblivion.
This grand mansion in cottage home is hardly a cottage
but just one example of why this neighborhood is important

The early face of the preservation movement was in Lockerbie a neighborhood just the other side of the freeway and most (including city leaders) assumed the area would be destined for warehouse expansion as far east until it reached Arsenal Tech which would be a natural buffer to Woodruff and other residential neighborhoods.  Cottage homes was essentially "written off".
Walkable livable neighborhood, close to downtown
 are keys to turnaround

But as Lockerbie , and many other downtown neighborhoods prospered and prices escalated, some saw Cottage Home for what it was; minutes to the downtown core, great historic architecture and  most importantly, still affordable. It was that early group of preservationists, artisans and a few older residents who did not want to see their neighborhood wiped away that engineered the slow turnaround of that community.

Elimination of a through street fostered new development.
Connectivity of a different kind: Sometimes less is more and the reduction of cut through traffic was addressed most skillfully by this neighborhood by eliminating through traffic on one of its streets and the replacement with roadway with a footbridge and the creation of a cul de sac street area which has fostered new development. A novel solution to the elimination of through traffic which also helped reduce crime and drug dealing
High end housing replaces vacant underused lots.

These new construction townhomes and now single family homes are repurposing once vacant lots and providing quality housing in that area where before there was little interest in redevelopment.

These unique prefab modular designed New Urbanist
homes are writing a new chapter on former warehouse land
The restoration of the historic housing stock has provided new opportunities for architectural diversity on a stretch along 10 th street brings high end New Urbanist development on another former industrial site.

Today no one would suggest that Cottage home be bulldozed for warehouses. In fact, it is the warehouses that are being demolished to provide new housing opportunities. Cottage Home is rapidly becoming a great emerging community and former vacant lots and warehouse land is seeing high end housing being constructed. It is an example of how a small group  with a love of saving the ordinary cottage fostered the rebirth of an entire neighborhood and are writing new chapters in its history.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Classic Farmhouse Sink: And we have one for sale!

Its been awhile since we have had a really nice farmhouse sing come our way. This one is a right corner version and has the drain board on the left.

Good ones like this are increasingly harder to find and I'm not sure when we will have another so if a classic farmhouse sink is a must have for your restoration, here you are, and it even has the hanging brackets.

Priced to sell 395.00 ( to our blog readers) and you can pick up in Indy or Cincinnati and we can work with your Blanket shipper. For details contact me at victiques@gmail.com

Monday, April 7, 2014

Spring Tag Sale a huge sucess

This year was our last Indianapolis Tag sale (as our Indy home goes on the market) and the weather cooperated  with us and our clients shopped for many unique thing. Still a little tired but it was fun time as always.

Of course we didn't sell Everything, so if you see something you like you can email me at victiques@gmail.com to see if we still might have it.

Friday, April 4, 2014

"CAP Program" seeking volunteers for spring & summer projects

The Knox Hill "CAP " Community Appearance Project is looking for Volunteers to do small improvement projects this  Spring and Summer.

CAP is a great way for individuals to get involved in community projects but its "small stuff" that you can do in a couple of hours that has big impact on  the community. The purpose of CAP is to do small scale community appearance projects that could range from flower planting  to painting picket fencing to more involved 'group projects' like donating an afternoon to one of our Save not Raze projects and maybe cutting weeds and clearing lots.

Getting involved in Cap is simple, if you are an individual you can choose from a 'honey do" list of small projects like flower planting, cleaning out street gutters, helping a senior with yard work. If you are involved in a church group, a business, or have group of friends you might choose a bigger project like landscaping the first 5 feet of a vacant lot  which discourages dumping. Or maybe even a tree planting event. We are also looking for corporations to donate  materials like mulch, paint and flowers to CAP projects.

If this sounds like something you'd like to be involved in contact me at victiques@gmail.com about how to get involved or set up a CAP project for your group or business to work in Knox Hill.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Spring in Knox Hill Overlook District: Opportunities abound.

Things have changed a lot in the overlook district. Unfortunately the city took down one property that had to come down, Listing over 18 degrees and the foundation was failing, but its loss has opened up some new opportunities for new infill or relocation of an endangered house.

Its loss has made Bloom street more visible which bodes well for our project homes. The continued elimination of Section 8 rentals and their restoration provides many more opportunities for market rate homes. Looking forward to getting more green on this one as the insulbrick disappears and we get back to this homes 1895 roots.

One of the pleasant byproducts of the unfortunate demo is our Bloom Street townhome project is the new view of the Midwest textile building. That building is ripe for Condo redevelopment.

As more restorations are on going, and new infill starts soon, people are going to wonder just what is going on "On that hill over on the Westside?"

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Cast Iron Renaisance arched top Summer Cover

Chances are if you have cast iron mantels you probably are missing yours . Most were sacrificed in the WW2 scrap drives and they are getting increasingly hard to find.

So grab your measuring tape! We have an extra Cast iron summer cover. Its 18 inches wide and 26 inches high. Nice grill design on it very nice and formal for your parlor.

We have this listed on EBAY for 175.00 buy it now. This won't last so better hurry if this is the size you need.