Tuesday, October 6, 2009

3 Landmark Mansions in Eminent Danger: City Council Action Required

I just learned from Margo Warminski at CPA that these 3 mansions have been obtained by company called ResErection Inc a Cincinnati based company with plans to DISASSEMBLE them and resell them to builders anywhere in the world! http://www.reserections.com/

Among them 965 BURTON which is ON THE NATIONAL REGISTRY, designed by Samuel

Hannaford. a stone Romanesque mansion. The 8900 square foot mansion is being offered moved

and rebuilt on a new location for 2.8 million dollars

The 24 room Johnson Henry Bell Mansion 24 rooms for 2,950,000.00 in Walnut Hills
And this Georgian Revival Mansion for 2,650,000.00

This 'company' was responsible for the disassemble of the 1885 Kemper castle. Which is being rebuilt in Texas in 2010
These prices include shipment anywhere in the United States or to a shipping port.

There have been similar operation in other parts of the country that were largely stopped due to quick action by city officials enacting ordinances that prohibit the removal of historic properties from city boundaries or the moving of historic structures. Action is needed immediately by the council to stop this.

This activity represents the GREATEST DANGER to the historic architecture that this city has ever faced! Call or email you councilman, the mayor whomever but this has to be stopped!

Cincinnati historic structures MUST stay in Cincinnati. I have often said that we have the best architecture and unfortunately the best prices. This will be the proverbial tip of the iceberg if not stopped NOW!


ResErections, Inc. said...

These beautiful houses are derelicts, left behind by progress. They are too expensive to fix, and too expensive to maintain. They are surrounded by whole neighborhoods of Section 8 housing. They are located in areas with a high level drug and violent crime.

It is enormously expensive to disassemble and rebuild these houses on new sites. But this expense translates into lots of Cincinnati jobs, and leaves the original sites available for redevelopment.

We are hoping to find people that have the resources to move them rather than demolish them.

If we are successful, more than $ 8,000,000 will be spent in Cincinnati.

ResErections, Inc.

ResErections, Inc. said...

We are not reselling them to builders, but to individuals that want to preserve them. The prices quoted are for disassembly and transportation only, not rebuilding.

In short, we are not stripping out the valuable pieces and selling them, but recycling the whole house in its entirety.

ResErections, Inc.

Paul Wilham said...

Years ago they wanted to put a highway through Columbia Tusculum, the argument was the houses were "run down". Neighbors banded together and today those painted ladies are some of the most highly desired homes in the city. Not that many years ago Mt Adams was 'some houses on a hill".
Less than 10 years ago everyone 'wrote off' OTR yet today via 3cdc and others the area is making a remarkable comeback, as is historic Dayton Street, Price Hill , Hartwell, my own neighborhood of Knox Hill and others.

In my 20 years of working in historic neighborhoods across the country I have seen remarkable turnarounds of neighborhood you would have written off.

The problem is short sighted , money hungry, profiteers who do not understand the architrecural significance of these homes in the context of their built surroundings.

The removal of these structures is nothing short of "Architectural Rape" and I would expect the entire historic preservation community both local, state and national will do everything in its power to stop this.

I have had over 200 emails today from historic preservationsist across the country, who are outraged by very idea that these homes would be relegated to a rebuilt 'disneyland shell" by someone who can't appreciate history but would rather feed their own personal ego to have something 'different'.

Paul Wilham said...

I would also add that I do not believe for one moment the members of the city council and this mayor, up for re-election will stand for the dismantling of the house at 965 Burton that is listed on the National Historic Register as a Cincinnati Landmark!

At least not by the time every historic preservationist and community leader in the city calls and emails them this week.

This type of activity has been stopped dead in it's tracks in other cities and this city will do the same!

Fifteenth and Vine said...

Excellent point re Columbia Tusculum, Paul. Here are some examples of what can be done with "white elephants" like these once neighborhoods begin to turn around. A Hannaford-designed stone house on Park Avenue in Walnut Hills, formerly a rundown nursing home with ugly addition, is now being restored. This house is comparable in size and condition to the buildings advertised on ResErection's Web site. One block north, the former Pogue Mansion has been restored as the offices of a landscape architecture firm. Two blocks away, two Victorians remuddled into nursing homes have been sensitively renovated as condos. Preservation can work.

Paul Wilham said...

There are several people restoring over there near J.Bell. In fact eth city annouced plans to accept an offer of over 140K on one of the Lincoln properties that still needs work.

WE need to close the demo loophole with a 'requiredreview' by eth historic commision on any demo permits on 100 plus yr old home or home sthat are landmarked or in historic districts. They whould have the right to appeal a denial to teh entire city council who could over-ride it witha 2/3 majority. BUT we have to stop this "blight=bulldoze" mentality.

There is 1.2 million dollars worth of restoration going on in my Knox Hill Neighborhood right now which sits in Fairmount! The "poster child' of section 8! A neighborhood I am sure ResErections would have 'written off".

ResErections, Inc. said...

Here are the latest building inspection citations filed against the 965 Burton property, owned by a Los Angeles investor that wants to remain anonymous.

6/18/2009 ... ORDERED ... Securely barricade openings in this building to prevent the entry of trespassers within fifteen (15) days of the date of this notice and maintain the barricades until windows, doors and other openings are repaired in an approved manner. In the opinion of the director of buildings and inspections the building is unsafe or unsanitary.

8/27/2009 ... The building is vacant. Falling ceillings can be seen through the windows; windows are broken; exterior surfaces require paint; the yard is overgrown. The building is not habitable. Keep this building vacant until it is brought into compliance with the applicable provisions of the CBC and restored to a safe and sanitary condition. You must apply for a Vacated Building Maintenance License and provide proof of liability insurance within 30 days of the date of this notice and cause the premises to conform to the minimum standards of safety and structural integrity set forth in 1101-79.4 below within 90 days of the date of this notice.

Paul Wilham said...

ResErections, Lets talk about that "investor". 965 Burton LLC, which on a search of California Secretary of State records does not show up as a registered California LLC.Part of the problem with many historic properties is that they are bought by out of state, "investors' who have no intention of fixing them. As for a VBML. A VBML is not a death sentence for a historic home. My own house had a VBML against it. You might want to look at the work we have done by reading my blog. People shouldn't buy an old house that needs work unless they intend to spend money on it and fix it.

There are peopele living in Cincinnati that would likely buy the Burton Ave propety and fix it. I am sure that you, (owning as many properties as you do under your other LLC) maintain your properties, or do you?

ResErections, Inc. said...

These houses are located in Avondale and North Avondale .. an area dominated by Section 8 housing. There is a high level of drug dealing and violent gun crime as well as property crime. In 2008, there were 19,331 calls for police service, 1,703 crimes including 11 murders, 19 rapes, 237 robberies, 92 assaults, 440 burglaries, 776 larcenies, and 144 car thefts. That is in 12 months.

So you think someone with $ 1 million or more to spend on renovation would want to rehabilitate these and live there … dream on …

The houses we are looking at have been deserted for years. The Cincinnati building department has filed several complaints and fines against owners. The Romanesque has been gutted with fallen in ceilings due to leaks in roof, broken out windows, and a terribly overgrown lot. At night, you can see the light from squatters camping in the basement and some upper rooms.

The Georgian must be moved to make way for a parking lot for a brand new medical clinic. There is no safe parking close by.

Paul Wilham said...

in 1988 I bought a mission revival mansion built in 1906 also designed by an noted architect. The house had been a nursing home from 1965-1980. It had been vacant for 8 years, there was no woodwork, no trim, the roof leaked and many would have bulldozed it. It was in a gang infested low income neighborhood. 2 days before I closed there was a gang shooting and someone was killed on the front porch of that house.

I was able to remove the police tape and clean the blood off the front porch the day I closed.

I reconstructed the woodwork, I 'rebuit' the house being faithfull to it's original architecture. 3 years later I sold it. For what I had in it because I bought another old mansion even larger down the street. I restored it and actually made money on it. Others came in and restored other homes.

Today that once gang infested, open air drug dealing neighborhood is a registered historic district. That house I brought back is worth well over 750K today and the other one recently resold for 1.3 million.

It is 'short sighted' people like you and your company that are the reason neighborhoods fails.

If there had been someone like ResErection around that neighborhood never would have pulled itself out of the gutter.

You can kid youself and "claim" that your are 'rescuing' these homes but thats a lie. You are in this for the money, it isn't about caring about historic property, it isnt about "saving anything", It Sir, is about greed and the architectural rape and profit of neighborhoods, plain and simple.

Jason said...

Part of me feels badly for Cincinnati for allowing its structures to get to a point that the only way they can be saved is to actually move them somewhere else where people will appreciate them.
But, the other side of me agrees totally with what Paul is saying. This is just a money making venture and completely destroys the architectural and historic fabric of not only the homes, but mostly the neighborhoods they are being stolen from.

ResErections, Inc. said...

Ahaaa .. your niggling bias against wealth and money sneaks in again. As a matter of fact, the reason I work is the satisfactions of work itself, not so much the money. Putting people to work is a joy. Accomplishing a complex task is a joy. I work for the pleasure of using my skills and training at their highest level. Money is one of the rewards, but absolutely necessary to make the whole thing feasible. I have to meet a payroll. I am sure that most people in the construction trades feel the same. I would not want to work with anyone whose primary motivation was money. Greed may be a sin, but making money certainly is not .. Read Ayn Rand's book "Atlas Shrugged".

As a matter of fact, my calculations of the cost of moving a 9,000 sqft stone building to Oregon totals out at $ 1,890,000 for the three month project. You would be amazed at the complexity and scale of operations. Labor at $ 700 per man per day with fringes. Rental equipment at $ 9,000 per month, permits and insurance at $ 45,000. 25,000 sqft of Warehouse space at $ 2.00 per sqft per month. Trucking at $ 4,000 per load. Architecture support at $ 300 per hour. Project Management at $ 1,500 per day. The list goes on and on.

All of these monies are paid out to vendors, employees, consultants, lawyers, government agencies, and taxes to name a few.

Making money flow is my job. The reason the prices are set as high as they are is to make sure that the buyers have the level of resources necessary to restore the house on a suitable site in a fashion consistent with the original beauty of the houses in question.

Surely, you do not think it is wrong to do well while doing good.

Paul Wilham said...

"Accomplishing a complex task is a joy?"

A "Complex task" is figuring out how to restore buildings and turn around a neighborhood.

A 'complex task" would be finding a non profit to partner with (say a hospital guild) to do a 'designer showhouse" at 965 Burton, getting huge amounts of work donated in exchange for publicity,thereby bringing the restoration costs down to a manageable level so the house could be sold to cover the other non-donated costs.

A complex task is working with the preservation community instead of against it. Securing state and federal grants for community redevlopment. Perhaps figuring out a way to acquire those section 8 apartments and redevelop them into upscale condominiums at the same time as 965 Burton and because of the value and publicity that would bring, and would allow you to make a profit on them.

Those are 'complex tasks" and worthy ones that require real skill.

"Architectural Rape" of a neighborhood on the other hand isn't complex and no different than some copper thief sneaking into an empty building with a hacksaw. The result is the same, the destruction of a historic property.

I would imagine things might be getting a bit 'complex' for you now, what with some other local bloggers,the Historic Preservation community, multiple neighborhood Associons,some local media people, and at least one city councilman I know taking up the cause of saving these structures and keeping them intact in Cincinnati.

Apparently, many are still upset about the "architectural rape" of Kemper Castle which a more creative and 'complex' individual would have found a way to restore?

Don B said...

ResErections can sugarcoat this anyway they want, but they are nothing more than the Sanford & Sons of historic architecture. These buildings are not even being "relocated," but rather stripped of their character defining features, which are then reapplied to a new structure. In short, these historic buildings are being reduced to a veneer for some clueless individual's McMansion. At the end of the day, Cincinnati gets another vacant lot. ResErections must have gotten their start in Detroit during the Urban Renewal craze of the 1950s and 60s. Look how well vacant lots worked out for that city. Yep, those vacant lots sure create a lot of jobs. Please, do continue with your justification of your actions. How about some more stats on crime. Yeah, a vacant lot will fix that problem.

ResErections, Inc. said...

Put your money where your mouth is.

Come up with the money to:
(1) Buy the property from the current owner.
(2) Restore the property to the standards of current building codes as suitable for single family, multifamily, or light office within 2 years.

Do that, and the house will stay.

Paul Wilham said...

I have a better idea:

1.Lobby the city council to pass an ordinance ,making it illegal to demolish, alter or move a historic landmarked property without approval of the Historic Preservation Commission and approval by a majority of the city council after a public hearing.

2.) Take the out of state "Investor " who had no intention of doing anyting with this property in the first place, and haul him before a judge for failure to comply with city orders, FINE HIM and let him spend some time in Jail! And when he doesn't come into complience put the property in recievership.That will send a strong message to out of state slumlord/investor types that the city of Cincinnati is serious about property owners maintaining their property so this kind of thing doesnt happen again!

Don B said...

ResErections: It's true that it is terribly expensive to restore and maintain one of these houses. There's no argument there. But that by no means justifies your actions. You are still guilty of running a salvage business.

If you have the resources to put your money where your mouth is then get busy on a solution to restore these buildings where they sit. How about investing in the neighborhoods that these buidings belong to? Your argument that progress has passed these properties by and there is no longer any hope for the buildings or their neighborhoods is pretty weak, to say the least. That sad little story might ease the conscience of your client but it isn't going to get you too far with anyone else. So, enough with the smokescreens already.

Why don't you put greed aside for once and do the right thing? You might actually earn the respect and support of the community. As it is now, you're making a lot of enemies. You might even earn some new legislation that will put an end to your activities once and for all.

Don B said...

I can hear your maniacal laughter from here.

Yes, big restoration projects require huge investments: no revelation there. However, that is not a legitimate excuse for salvaging these buildings. Nor is it an excuse that "progress" has passed these neighborhoods by. That might make your clients feel warm and fuzzy with their decision to purchase salvaged materials from ResErections, but it makes everyone else cringe with disgust.

Since you apparently have the resources to spew money from your mouth, why don't you do the right thing and invest in these structures and their neighborhoods...as opposed to gutting them for scrap value.

There very well might be investors out there who are willing to give these buildings a chance. In fact, your very actions just might spur someone to save the buildings from the scrapper. Who knows, maybe your little scheme will actually wake people up. It's about time.