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.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Just In: A remarkable Aesthetic Movement 3 piece Parlor Set

The stars and moon must be in a rare alignment, because we are finding some remarkable new finds. Such is the vase with this just in American Aesthetic Movement three Piece Parlor set.

The Aesthetic Movement was a move away from the more formal Rococo styles and even to some degree the  Renaissance style. The Aesthetic Movement was a sort of transition from the more exuberant Victorian era to the Craftsman era.

Of course, within this movement it took many forms, in some cases towards the Anglo-Japanesque, or in this case, a more restrained example that dealt more with the artful carved images of leaves. In either case the Aesthetic movement blended style with nature and was in some ways a precursor to the more honest and simpler craftsman ethic.

This set with its design themes is probably a Cincinnati or Grand Rapids manufactured set designed to go in an upper middle class parlor. The Settee in particular is most attractive with its central back flanked with two carved panels on either side. The Arms are separated from the main back to create more airy open design.

The chairs reflect the arm design in their side design. All in all, a nicely designed set that would be different than the more formal Renaissance and Rococo and perhaps even a bit daring and exotic for the day.

This set has older upholstery with some minor issues, but is serviceable for the typical parlor. My initial temptation was to reupholster it in a two tone scheme, but why argue with success and a nice presentation as it.  We will replace some of the arm gimp before sale and replace few missing nail head trim nails, that held the gimp but it will be a very presentable, and reasonably priced, parlor set in our inventory.

If this Aesthetic Movement Set speaks to you, speak to me at victiques@gmail.com about pricing info and how you can make this yours.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Antique-of-the-Week: The little red chair!

Everyone is always looking for small side chairs and frankly they are getting hard to find or they need upholstery. Here is a wonderful Eastlake Victorian style chair and its in  a deep red upholstery. Walnut incised trim and its original castors too!

Priced for a quick sale at 125.00 and we can work with your shipper and if you are in the Indianapolis  or Cincinnati areas you can pick it up in person.

Antique of the week is an ongoing series aimed at the old house restorer who is looking to decorate their home affordably. We can invoice you via paypal, email me at victiques@gmail.com for more info.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Cincinnati demos while other cities get creative.

Homes up the hill as we can see in this 1930's era photo at Seegar and Baltimore

Cincinnati neighborhoods were once vibrant places. Years of city "blight abatement" or "Blight=bulldozer" urban renewal have been a failure. Urban Planners know it, city leaders know it and most of all the residents of neighborhoods that suffer from it know it, yet we continue to demo.

130 Years of history gone!
So we spend 12,000 to demo this 1880's era home that was on the corner.  What will happen here? Nothing, except the possibility that someone will dump garbage here costing we the taxpayer to clean it up. Will the city cut and maintain this vacant lot? In a word no. Are there developers lined up by the city to build a new house here? That would also be a no. This property in fact won't even be in city control for over 5 years as liens for the demo ( which the property owner will never pay) accrue.

House under stabilization by city of Milwaukee 
While we demo, other cities are taking an opposite, and more positive approach by stabilizing properties and reselling them. The city of Milwaukee is spending funds to stabilize old properties and resell them to owner occupants who agree to restore them .
Similar to the house Cincinnati just tore down, This stabilized  Milwaukee home will be sold for 18K
So here is an very similar home to the one our city just demoed EXCEPT Milwaukee painted the outside and is reselling it to a new owner occupant. The city estimates it will cost around 40K to complete. Neighbors in Milwaukee get to look a nice stabilized house and look forward to a new buyer and neighbor.

This property, now sold, has a real positive impact on its community

Milwaukee understands that a completed home,  will positively impact the neighborhood around it. No waiting for a vacant lot to someday be developed.

The answer is simple, we are using the WRONG approach. While the city will spend millions to demo this year it has only 200,000.00 for stabilization according to Ed Cunningham and those monies can only be spend on designated historic houses.

We need to re-evaluate how we are allocating our funding.