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Old 07-30-2014, 08:44 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vintrest View Post
ID, you present a classic urban issue that pops up frequently in Midwestern cities. In some places such as Detroit or North St. Louis you end up with entire neighborhoods so decimated by city-ordered demolitions that the remaining isolated house or two look like farmhouses stuck in the middle of a rural area instead of lucky survivors of a once densely built neighborhood. I've studied with interest several areas in Dayton such as Riverdale and North Main where some of the survivors suggest a very prosperous area over a century ago but now present the gap-toothed appearance you described. There's a pocket of interesting old homes between north Main and Riverside Dr. (between Mary and East Helena) East Mumma is representative of the area and still has a contiguous housing stock as one goes east from North Main yet the trend of picking off houses one by one was established long ago. A few of the surviving houses along North Main were once grand (notably, the towered Victorian Queen Annes) but decades of hard rental and commercial use have left little but some exterior clues as to what they may have once been.

I speculate the day is not far off when everything I've mentioned is replaced by vacant lots. The City does have some incentives in place to buy and rehab some of the houses in the 5 Oaks neighborhood due west of North Main but it looks like the area east of it to the river is considered expendable. A shame really because if one could gather up the best survivors and place them together on generous size lots in the hands of owners who were obligated to rehab them to historic district standards, a revitalized and architectural diverse residential area could result. Less waste in the landfill and more tax revenue for the city than a vacant lot produces.
But its probably reasonable to assume nothing like that will ever happen. Moving houses is fairly expensive-typically $25,000 or more to move a single story house a few blocks, put it down on a new foundation, and pay for utility hookups. Then the house in question would need a fair amount of work-electrical, plumbing, HVAC as well as cosmetic work like exterior painting or interior millwork refinishing. (not to mention un-doing past remodeling mistakes or replacing missing architectural features) Once a house is going to be moved, it is in the crosshairs of the City's building department and would require all applicable permits-about the same number as a new build. In summary, thousands of great old homes in the predicament you describe are going to be lost in the coming years because saving them is cost prohibitive. Where the process of neighborhood erosion is not too advanced and the remaining housing stock is generally well cared for, some vacant lots can be converted to a neighborhood-community garden or small park. Homeowners may be able to buy city-owned post-demolition cleared lots right next to them for larger yards (a practice that is feasible and fairly common in old neighborhoods) Last, in some neighborhoods where property values are on the upswing vacant lots can have new infill housing built. In the best examples, the new infill housing is design compatible with the existing age and style of the old housing stock therefore enhancing the streetscape appearance. If one thinks about it the best compatible infill housing would be those houses needing to be saved from the wrecking ball still standing in the neighborhood but lacking a residential context due to their neighbors already being lost to demolition. But standing in the way of collecting these worthy survivors and rewarding them with a second life are the costs. In a city where older housing stock is sometimes priced very low, convincing anyone to invest in moving and renovating a period home which post-renovation may show minimal value appreciation, is futile. This is not a Dayton specific problem but one applicable to older neighborhoods in many American cities. I'm afraid by the time any real world solutions are devised to slow down or stop these losses, it will be a case of too little too late. Sadly, the problem you mention is all too familiar and usually follows a predicable path until a once vibrant neighborhood vanishes and only a distant memory or some old photographs remain. In a number of the Dayton threads I've read, the major questions are whether living in the city itself is a good idea or is living in the suburbs the best choice. Most folks would not even consider the concept of saving deteriorated old housing stock unless they could be called Preservationists-and there are not that many of us in the general population. In summary: it's a difficult problem with no easy solutions. Demolition is always the default solution-it shouldn't be.
Excellent points Vinterest!

I don't have any answers. One bit of good news has come from the Main St. / I-75 exit re-alignment, where a few historic houses that were formerly in Riverdale along Grand Ave have now been separated into Grafton Hill. It seems they have been fixed up and now make for a very prominent new entrance to the historic district.

As for other parts of Riverdale, I don't know. Anything south of I-75 seems to be zoned commercial, or at least intended for it. North of I-75, I could see rebirth happening if the Kettering Fields area is redeveloped into some type of residential, although even that would be a stretch. People seem to forget Riverdale since the area is not defined by one street, rather it's a collection of lateral roads that go from the river right into Main, which serves as a border between it and Five Oaks. Either way, it could use some help.
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Old 07-30-2014, 09:56 AM
 
Location: Springfield, Ohio
11,817 posts, read 9,757,283 times
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The old Oddfellows building in St Anne's was demolished yesterday:
“Odd” piece of history meets common fate | WDTN

It was on the National Register, but apparently not salvagable.

Here's a (free) "before" image via Wikimedia:
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Old 07-30-2014, 12:31 PM
 
1,842 posts, read 1,380,522 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amandarthegreat View Post
They do this already; it's called Lot Links: Lot Links
What you have posted is interesting and worthwhile, but not what I was talking about.

What I was referring to is a wholesale change in lot sizes from, say 40' x 105' to 80' x 105' or even 120' x 105' for each and every house on each and every block for many many blocks in a neighborhood.

This would turn an undesireable old house into a desireable piece of land with a house on it. What the owner chooses to do is up to them. If someone comes in and wants to buy their little estate, fine. If they want to build a better house there, fine. If they want to refurbish the old house, fine. The point is to build a new neighborhood there and only secondarily to preserve the old housing stock.

Naturally, if you have houses like the fine old specimens of Grafton Hill or McPherson town, the tendency would be to preserve the house since that is likely to provide the greatest return on investment.

The Lot Links program would do nothing to make a block with just a few houses in a cluster from eventually going under the wrecking ball. It is, however, a useful program where a block has just a few vacant lots, overgrown with weeds. Owners can expand one or two lots by acquiring a vacant lot next door, but I can't see very much demand for someone living in a house on a 'bombed-out' block acquiring another lot on their block or a nearby 'bombed-out' lot for a garden.

The program also provides for a way for someone to re-hab a boarded-up house nearby. Again, I don't see how this would work unless the acquirer already lived in a vibrant neighborhood with a future.

What I was talking about was really an urban version of the old Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889. Unless we are talking about wholesale neighborhood lot expansion, then we aren't talking about the same thing.
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Old 07-30-2014, 01:55 PM
 
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
165 posts, read 332,322 times
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Thanks for allowing me to join the conversation. It's a shame the Oddfellows building was demo'ed but failing roof trusses represent a pretty serious defect. Yes, a crane could have been employed to remove the trusses and perhaps insert or add structural replacements but I speculate the damage was far more extensive inside. Failing roof support members often go hand in hand with extensive water leakage resulting in major damage to floors and walls below. In a high land value location I could see a rehab developer (almost sounds like an oxymoron but there are developers who focus on adaptive reuse rather than completely new construction) coming in and spending a couple of million dollars to gut and rebuild by adapting the shell to luxury condo conversion-but it's probably not economically feasible in St. Anne's Hill. Some of that type of gut-rehab is going on in Cincinnati's OTR neighborhood but on a building by building basis. (combined with financial incentives)

As for it being less expensive to move multiple houses, it is, but sometimes even at a "bulk rate" price there are no takers. Again using a Cincinnati example, the Corryville neighborhood next to U.C. has been massively redeveloped for student housing in recent years much to the detriment of its late 19th century housing stock. One street in particular, Euclid Avenue (not the famous one in Cleveland) had a row of impressive brick Victorian townhouses. A local developer bought up the street to build student housing apartments-in fairness to him he offered to give them away to be moved-a figure of $12,000 per structure was furnished by a local house mover (I don't know the calculated distance involved) but in the end, none was saved. I think the ballpark figure of $25k per house is still valid but two story houses will cost more and brick or masonry houses often even more. The size of the house to be moved is also a factor-large houses usually have to be sawed into sections to be moved; often roofs have to be removed and new basements/foundations have to be constructed. Moving and rehabbing a house is almost the same as new construction to be moved in ready especially if the house has been abused or insensitively remodeled in the past. Where neighborhoods can attract higher income earners, I could see a reconfigured housing area of architecturally distinctive rehabbed homes that were moved as being marginally profitable.

That said, I can count on one hand nationally where something like that has been done. (like in the Dallas-Ft. Worth suburb of Colleyville-where 3 large Victorian homes were relocated and reconstructed in the 1980's) In Jacksonville, Oregon, the landmarked Jeremiah Nunan house, a prominent 1892 Queen Anne style home built from mail order plans, gave rise across the street to a new housing development of reproduction Victorian, Craftsman, and Bungalow homes. Not the same as moving similar aged original homes to a newly platted neighborhood, but close. I think something similar could be done to save a number of Dayton's endangered old houses in specific locations but the missing ingredient is the investor(s) to fund such an enterprise. Banks and most lenders want nothing to do with moving an older home-move it with your own money they will tell you, then, when its sitting on a solid new foundation, you can come talk to us. It's curious that cities always seem to be able to come up with millions of dollars for "blight abatement" (demolition) projects yet very few dollars are ever allocated for neighborhood stabilization unless demolition is considered a means of stabilizing it.

As for the concept of recycling houses rather than pulverizing a house to splinters and transporting the mangled mess to the landfill, its complicated. Old houses sometimes have things no one wants: asbestos around the heating equipment; lead paint on the exterior and sometimes in interiors as well. The EPA mandates special hazardous materials procedures where asbestos and lead paint (sometime lead pipes as well) are present requiring licensed and trained abatement contractors. It's a grey area...demolition contractors can get away with pulverizing a house that may have lead paint present, yet its illegal for untrained/unlicensed workers to remove lead painted woodwork for recycling. But the really thorny issue is the labor that must go into deconstructing an older house. Essentially, the house is deconstructed in the reverse order in which it was built. An immense amount of labor went into building a typical late 19th century home-deconstructing in a way to allow the recycling of building elements is almost as labor intensive. You cannot price a true 2 x 12 inch 125 year-old floor joist enough to pay for all of the labor it takes to properly remove it. You still have a lot of waste: roofing materials, plaster and lath, trash left over from former residents, concrete elements from the basement, porches, sidewalks. Even when paying workers near minimum wages, deconstructing and recycling houses would seldom be profitable.
Of course, complete deconstruction and recycling is much different than cherry picking the nicest architectural elements that salvage dealers engage in. Go into any architectural salvage "boutique" and you'll get sticker shock from some of the prices. In some cases, the combined individual parts sell for more than the whole house was worth originally. (much like the market for automotive parts) Therefore, even though recycling houses rather than total destruction seems like the Green or environmentally responsible thing to do, in reality, its usually impractical and cost prohibitive not to mention the risk of running up against EPA rules regarding hazardous materials.
Dayton is fortunate to have numerous official local historic districts-this provides a minimal level of protection when a Federally funded project impacts a neighborhood. (a Section 106 review to determine the project's impact on historic resources is required but is interpreted differently depending on who's doing the review-thus it is a very weak method of protection)
Clearly from the substantial losses over the years in Dayton more options are needed including the ability to remove and relocate architecturally or historically deserving houses from areas being eroded by frequent demolitions. In places like Flint, MI, St. Louis, east Cleveland, the isolated stragglers remaining from demolition barren neighborhoods usually do not have a happy future. It's only a matter of time before they too disappear. Economic, demographic, and historic preservation issues are intertwined-when a mayor talks about "right-sizing" or downsizing the city he or she is thinking about clear cutting certain neighborhoods. I was surprised to see in streetview how rurally open and low density some areas of Flint, MI are today that were once solidly built up. Maybe the concept of urban farms within the confines of post-industrial cities is valid. The original early settlements were often dotted with smaller farms that were gradually surrounded then became part of an urban streetscape as the city expanded. It seems logical that where "demolition greenspace" land is unlikely to be redeveloped it could be re-purposed and rezoned for agricultural use. (kind of the reverse of suburbanization)
Last, there was apparently a neighborhood "project house" in the Riverdale & N. Main area that was used to demonstrate how the housing there could be revitalized. (maybe a TV show featured it?) But few lower income homeowners or landlords would see much value in such a project; it requires a higher income demographic of folks who can afford to improve a neighborhood. A good example would be the German Village neighborhood in Columbus which because it has similarities with areas of Dayton, might be a good study model. The South Park neighborhood presents an equivalent housing stock and appears to be improving just as the housing stock in in the St. Annes Hill district. If property values could rise to the levels of German Village, demolitions of old houses will taper off. San Francisco has over ten thousand 19th century homes remaining and the demolition of one of the city's iconic Victorian townhomes today is almost unheard of. Fixer uppers in SF sell for over a million dollars whenever one can be found. Dayton is not SF but the desire to live in an older home with character still resonates with many homeowners-I think Dayton should capitalize on this abundant native resource that plays an important role in bringing people back to the cities. Demolition is wasteful-rehabbing adds value. Simple concept.
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Old 07-30-2014, 02:11 PM
 
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
165 posts, read 332,322 times
Reputation: 147
ID, I had not yet seen your post before I posted mine. The Oklahoma Land Rush was brought on by the promise of free land for those who could stake a claim on newly opened land. There was an official start date but some clandestinely sneaked into the strip of land to be there first-they were called "Sooners" due to their enthusiasm to grab a piece of land. (still a nickname for Oklahoma citizens) I think in your example it would have to be subsidized in some way to make such wholesale neighborhood changes economically feasible. Forget federal or state funds; (even though the Ohio's Attorney General found millions for the 100,000 targeted demolitions state-wide for its "Moving Ohio Forward" program) I think you have a great idea but how it could be funded or implemented is anyone's guess. It's funny how everyone is on-board with building a new neighborhood but replatting and reconfiguring an existing neighborhood to lower density would be deemed impossible. Creating a business model that would show its economically feasible might be the first step but while you could probably pick up a few million for expanded demolition activity, good luck on finding anyone who would put their money into a neighborhood makeover project like that. Good idea but not very likely to happen, IMO.
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Old 07-30-2014, 02:26 PM
 
1,842 posts, read 1,380,522 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vintrest View Post
As for it being less expensive to move multiple houses, it is, but sometimes even at a "bulk rate" price there are no takers.
Thank you for your contribution to the thread. You are a wealth of information and your posts require a couple of reads due to the detailed content.

I wasn't talking about moving the house any further than a block or two. Most of the decaying neighborhoods don't have very significant houses.

I think there is a disconnect between us regarding our vision of moving houses.

You are talking about moving architectural gems across distances measured in miles and I am talking about moving one house to the next lot.

You are talking about putting a house on a fully-modern foundation and I am talking about putting a house on something that will be stable, but where utilities would all be visible and not encased.

I admit that I probably just don't know what I am talking about. I just didn't have any vision of anything other than a short shift that might not even require anything other than a rolling platform and a cable to shift the house.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vintrest View Post
As for the concept of recycling houses rather than pulverizing a house to splinters and transporting the mangled mess to the landfill, its complicated. .... cherry picking the nicest architectural elements that salvage dealers engage in.
That's all I had in mind. Cherry picking the good stuff. Anything more would cost more than salvage value.

Probably one of the reasons that all that stuff you mentioned is so expensive is that the supply is being crushed with the houses that are not salvaged.

It may just be practical to just re-plat all the vacant blocks with large lots and forget the existing houses.

In any case, just leaving the existing lot arrangements and houses will just end up causing further decay.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vintrest View Post
I think in your example it would have to be subsidized in some way ...
I don't see why it would take much.

Read any forum in any state that has actively growing cities. In the same post that people decry urban sprawl, they complain about how the "cookie-cutter" houses are on "postage stamp" sized lots - unclear on the concept of large lots in relation to sprawl.

I think that in exchange for a large lot close to the city, people would jump at the chance to put money into a neighborhood ( not a couple of blocks ).
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vintrest View Post
Good idea but not very likely to happen, IMO.
Yup. The government people will find all kinds of reasons why existing platting cannot be reconfigured. Your 'O' is probably right.

I'm just dreaming up ways that my hometown might survive into the middle of the next century.

By 2050, I fear that it will resemble an apocalyptic wasteland.

Last edited by IDtheftV; 07-30-2014 at 03:03 PM..
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Old 07-30-2014, 02:48 PM
 
Location: Lebanon, OH
5,687 posts, read 5,914,643 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Natural510 View Post
The old Oddfellows building in St Anne's was demolished yesterday:
“Odd” piece of history meets common fate | WDTN

It was on the National Register, but apparently not salvagable.

Here's a (free) "before" image via Wikimedia:
That's a shame, I can remember when Dayton was a reasonably nice place and to see such urban decay is sad.

Other major cities are facing the same problems, an exodus of the tax base and a lack of resources to push back against the decline.

A possible answer would be a Rehab-A-Rama, as opposed to a Home-A-Rama. Identify a street of vacant homes in an area that has the potential for a rebound, have the homes restored and sell tickets to tour the homes, which will be for sale. This could generate interest in an area and help surrounding homes sell and generate a turnaround, although it may take some time.
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Old 07-30-2014, 03:54 PM
 
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
165 posts, read 332,322 times
Reputation: 147
There is a TV show focused on flipping the block but its subjects are newer 20th century houses (block condos actually) in a deteriorated state rehabbed and spruced up to current decorating tastes. (which seem to be very eclectic these days) A creative developer might be able to buy up and flip an actual block of homes if the demand were there. I could see one of the short streets between N. Main and Riverside Dr. being a street model for a project like that. It would be simple to realign the lots except that nearly all older homes have basements. You can't move a house 20-30 feet sideways without rebuilding a basement. (a fairly expensive proposition) I still like your idea and believe if enough caring people came together there are possibilities but that's true of almost anything. Finding enough caring people would be the first challenge. That said, I plan to look into Dayton as a possible relocation destination depending on what is available.
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Old 07-30-2014, 05:32 PM
 
3,515 posts, read 3,798,033 times
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woxyrome, Dayton has had "Rehab-a-ramas" in the past. They used to happen yearly, although I think the last one was in 2012. It was a neat event, since the focus was on Huber Homes. Amazing what can be done to one of those!

Citi-ramas were the same type of show that happened in the city. Neighborhoods included in the past were McPherson Town, South Park, Fairgrounds, Wright-Dunbar, and probably some others. So it worked for those neighborhoods.

I assume the event was also tried in Dayton View, Huffman, Santa Clara, and a couple other neighborhoods which had restoration efforts sputter out too... The only key to success vs. failure that I have seen is location. The focus seems to be on creating a nice, "model" area of the city stretching from Grafton Hill / McPherson through Downtown to the city's southern border with Kettering and Oakwood. And right now the effort seems to be working. I'm hoping the effect will mothball through the city, probably bringing St. Anne's Hill, Twin Towers, southern Dayton View (although Dayton View seems to be a good block bad block kind of a place), and if we're lucky Old North Dayton (that would be thanks to Welcome Dayton) online next.

Riverdale (which I'll get to in a separate post to Vinterest) is going to be.... interesting. It has some design issues to overcome with the way the current city grid has chopped it up. I think it's possible to bring it back, maybe even easier than it would be for Twin Towers, but it would require some infrastructure investments to really take off IMO.
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Old 07-30-2014, 05:45 PM
 
3,515 posts, read 3,798,033 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vintrest View Post
There is a TV show focused on flipping the block but its subjects are newer 20th century houses (block condos actually) in a deteriorated state rehabbed and spruced up to current decorating tastes. (which seem to be very eclectic these days) A creative developer might be able to buy up and flip an actual block of homes if the demand were there. I could see one of the short streets between N. Main and Riverside Dr. being a street model for a project like that. It would be simple to realign the lots except that nearly all older homes have basements. You can't move a house 20-30 feet sideways without rebuilding a basement. (a fairly expensive proposition) I still like your idea and believe if enough caring people came together there are possibilities but that's true of almost anything. Finding enough caring people would be the first challenge. That said, I plan to look into Dayton as a possible relocation destination depending on what is available.
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask! We have answers, and even if we don't, I'm still willing to take a detour on my route home from downtown and find an answer (for a couple more weeks until I go back to my home college, at least).


Anyways, I think you are right. It would take one good, well-fixed street. I would add another caveat that it would have to be in a good location. Like something near Helena St. to take advantage of the easy walk to Island Metropark, for instance.

The main issue I see with Riverdale as an overall neighborhood is its lack of identity. It's a beautiful area, but there's no street that connects it. Five Oaks, McPherson, South Park, the OD, Wright-Dunbar, Rubicon... all defined by one "main street" through the district. That's not the case with Riverdale, since Main and Riverside Dr. both act as barriers more than anything else. Or at least there is not one now, because Riverside Dr. has been turned into a monstrous four-lane boulevard. If traffic were calmed by slimming the road down to two lanes with a bike trail, then I could see it work. But in its current state and design, it's going to be an uphill battle.

I believe resident poster CarpathianPeasant knows a lot about the neighborhood. I'm surprised she hasn't come by yet. Additionally, Dayton History Books provides a lot of historical info on it:
DAYTON HISTORY BOOKS FREE ONLINE
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