Friday, April 19, 2013
Cast iron Mantles are still relatively commonplace, HOWEVER, a cast iron mantle with embossed Aesthetic movement panels is a rare bird indeed.
We acquired this one from the owner of a rather large 3 story Brick Italianate that had been converted into two condominiums several years ago. Apparently the owner did some "remodeling' and didn't need this mantle. We were happy to get it.
While the summer cover isn't the original, the artistic designs on this piece are quite stunning. The mantle also came with its Slate mantle top. We are currently evaluating how the designs may have been painted and this piece will enjoy an extensive restoration.
Monday, April 1, 2013
Monday, March 25, 2013
After months spend tearing off Vinyl siding followed by tearing off a layer of stucco, followed by tearing off the dry-rotted wood siding, followed by wall and sill repairs....AT LAST, some siding is on the house! Never mind we are waiting for our new front door and industriall staircase, we are actually able to see what the "New Urbanist" color pallete will look. The colors are actually close to what we originally envisioned, two shades grays, the 'copper color" that will make up the panel systems, a greyed green and of curse the ebony for window and doors.
The great thing about the exterior is it will be minimal maintenance. All the trim work is a recycled PVC material, and of course the siding and panel system is all Hardi which doesn't rot, is insect proof and holds paint well.
So in spite of multiple houses, multiple projects, amazingly we are juggling it all pretty well.
Saturday, March 23, 2013
Today was great warm spring day and we tackled the rear yard on one of the Bloom Street Town homes.
As was expected the yard was a disaster. Years of being rentals , well there really was no yard. However the stone beds were there and after some "archaeological digging" the original courtyard configuration took shape.
Another surprise is it appears that the stone patio is simple buried under about 4 inches of dirt. That will happen on another day. Obviously more to come but standing on the top terrace (overlooking the middle terrace in this photo) , this was once a well maintained garden and with a little hard work it will be again. We are hopeful the other townhouse yard will reveal some great things too.
Can't wait to start planting!
Friday, March 22, 2013
Things move quickly and we have been working on getting Bloom Street from being rentals to becoming luxury single family town homes. This transformation has begun with basic cleanup. Carpeting is being ripped out, assessment has been done and floor plans have been developed. The front yards have been mulched and cleaned up, Weeds are gone by the sidewalk, and already things are beginning to change.
Next couple of weeks will be very hectic to say the least, but change is coming to a street ignored for too long and forgotten by many.
I am amazed bu the level of completeness as to architectural detail and how something as simple as carpet removal begins to transform this property. Imagine with proper lighting new kitchens and baths, all the while overlooking the downtown with a 'million dollar view".
Apparently others see the value in this as we have had over three dozen inquiries already.
Friday, March 1, 2013
An 1895 Double will be reborn as the Bloom Street Townhomes. The project initiated by Victorian Antiquities and Design, will be managed by their new spin off development/build group called Flux Development.
With multiple restoration and reconstruction projects, the time has come to take a more ‘developer’ role and Flux Development’s purpose is to manage a variety of projects from historic restoration and stabilization projects to New Urbanist infill development and historic style infill construction. We have a total of six projects and 5 building lots in Knox Hill now, and with several more in planning and acquisition. The expansion of the focus of the company is clearly warranted.
The Bloom Street Townhomes will follow the New Urbanist, modern, “edgy” development of the Overlook Project on Knox Street on the exterior, but will retain many classic interior features while clearly a modern exterior design. The buildings will be redesigned to feature the views of the viaduct and city and will include new third floor master on each unit with rooftop balconies to take in the expansive views. Units will be slightly over 2000 square feet each and have 3 bedrooms 3 baths each.
The larger unit will feature a more transitional interior retaining historic fireplace mantles and staircase details while the smaller unit will be more modernistic and open concept. Both units will feature energy star appliances, Hybrid HVAC and hot water systems and be highly insulated.
Sale prices are expected to be in the 160-195K range, though client customization could drive those prices higher. There is a pent-up demand for quality units at a reasonable price point with stellar views of the city. The Knox Hill neighborhood and the Overlook District in particular, is unique with its views and easy proximity to Findlay Market and the downtown.
Design Plans are being finalized and a target date for completion is late 2013.
Monday, February 25, 2013
|This same set of window will be duplicated on the second floor|
Today we installed the last of the living room windows and the 'view vista' is incredible with the city in the distance. I can only imagine it at night! The last of these windows went surprisingly well considering they weigh several hundred pounds thanks to the hurricane glass and special framework. Although there is the old partition wall to take out (added when they created the side porch) the living room is now a full 14x20 feet.
|We will soon be working on the step down trim panel and metal detail trim which will merge the two separate windows into one large bank of windows|
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Some recent breaks in the weather has made it possible to get slightly ahead of schedule in some areas. One of those areas has been the framing restoration which takes the east wall back to its original location and reinstall of windows.
Correctly framing this structural wall has resulted in some "overenginering" on my part. Windows are special "hurricane strength" with more substantial metal framing under them. Hurricane strapping and various metal connectors have been used to tie structural elements together. The windows also have a UV filtering which insures there will not be an issue of interior sun fade. This is critical on large walls that face South. Since I once lived in Charleston I am perhaps more keenly aware than most of storm preparation but while it adds some additional cost it insures the house will be standing even under adverse conditions. All a part of doing it right the first time. The windows are, to put it mildly a bear to install, especially the largest ones (4x6 feet), which weigh hundreds of pounds. They are not typical new windows you find at the home improvement store. We used a special rubberized membrane to prevent any wind driven rain.
Another big change has been the removal of the old wood staircase which led to the old porch.
This set of stairs has been temporarily recycled to service the construction entrance door which will eventually have a full glass door in its place with transom. The new industrial metal stairs will replace it once its done.
At the same time we have spent a ton of time properly sealing any gaps in the wall structures with foam as well as putting in new R-13 wall insulation. Because of this home proximity to the rail yards (sound tends to travel up the hill) the use of thicker than usual window glass , careful insulating and a foam panel as well insures the inside of the home is remarkable quiet.
As of this writing we have one more 'Big window' to install and then we will repeat the process on the second floor. I can hardy wait to get then new siding installed
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Neighborhood turnaround can and does happen all across the country. Communities realize the value of restoration and the value of historic Preservation as an economic development tool.
|This once blighted block shines thanks to people who recognized the architectural value of these properties|
The Holy Cross Neighborhood in Indianapolis has made a remarkable turnaround in less than a decade. Once, a high crime-low income, mostly rental neighborhood it has been transformed into one of the most desired communities near downtown. In fact a developer recently announced the development of 17 new homes on a patch of old industrial land. This will be the crowning achievement of a community that once struggled. It achieved that turnaround based on solid principals that historic preservation and restoration works as an economic development tool and is key to turnaround
A case in point in this Block. In 2003 this block has serious issues, Vacant or converted to illegal apartments there was little stability here. Chain link defined property lines and the area was devoid of flowers or the perception that anyone cared about this block. Due to the transient nature of rentals , there was no neighborhood stability. The value of these 5 homes combined was less than 20,000.00 and as a result they generated minimal property taxes which did little to offset the services they generated via police runs or cleanups by the Health department.
Some felt the solution was demolition but other in the community saw the value in these 5 properties all built between 1895 and 1898 as part of a speculative project called Winona Park. In fact some of these homes till retained original columns and detailing in spite of the hard use by tenants.
In 2003 we were in the midst of other restorations in the neighborhood when one of these homes came up for sale. Nearby neighbors were urging us to buy it because otherwise it was destined to be turned into two family home. This house has had all the historic interior ripped out , replaced by plastic trim and carpet. If we didn't buy it, who would? The neighborhood would have suffered from lack of investment and most certainly would never look the way it does today. So we bought it and though busy with other restorations , began turning one house around.
We built custom built-ins and we terraced and landscaped the yard, a new carriage house was the first construction the block had seen since the 1950's In fact it was the ONLY garage on that block. As we worked and painted and landscaped a funny thing happened, people began to notice that things were happening. The slumlords could not conduct business as usual and one by one those properties became available, and others began restoration. Properties that were once hard to sell at 20K sold for over 200K.
A block once worth less than 20K now has an assessed value at well over 1 million dollars. Families who care now live on this block. It is safe, and come spring, people will be out in their yards and everyone will be looking forward to the neighborhood block party held in the fall.
Demolition was an option for some, but we held firm, kept the pressure up on the slumlords, get them to sell and eventually we will have a great block of historic homes that the community would be proud off.
So while Cincinnati is determined to demolish 600 homes this year as yourself who really benefits? Is it the community? or, is it the demo contractors and city employees who administer the demo program.
We need to learn from other cities and we need to understand that even the most 'blighted' property can be turned around and more importantly can be restored and contribute to community tax base.
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
The 37 Flood would be hard to imagine today, what with modern water control measures but in 37 but water came all the way to the foot of the Knox Hill neighborhood as you can see here by this photo of the intersection of Beekman and Queen City.Note the corner building seen here still stands today as does the Lunkenheimer Valve building. Hard to believe the valley flooded to this level.
This longer distance shot puts the destruction in perspective. The entire rail yards were covered by water.
From here we see the back of the Hill from the N Fairmount side. Some of you might still recognize this store building on Beekman as it still stands today. In the distance you can see the German reform church which also still stands today. Almost all the homes on the left of this photo are long gone.
Fresh water had to be brought into the residents in Knox Hill. This photo was taken near the intersection of Fairmount and Thompson. The houses seen in the background are all still standing.