Wanted: 1 investor with a heart for historic houses

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Scribeo
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Wanted: 1 investor with a heart for historic houses

Post by Scribeo » Wed Mar 23, 2011 10:32 am

Good morning all!

Owner of the "Ugly Duckling" here. Since I have the pleasure of having Gloria, Joe and Phil working on our house to make it (her, if you ask me) sparkle again, Preservation SOS and our historic homes are never far from my mind. This is an email I sent to Gloria in December last year. She suggested I re-post it here:

Good morning Gloria!

Tim said I can't renovate other old houses before ours is at least well underway and we're moved in but this is a thought that's been going around in my head for a while and after meeting you and having learned about Preservation SOS, I think I now know the right people to plant this idea :o)

Upon reading books about restoring old homes I came across a slew of ideas on how to 'spark' historic restoration in historic neighborhoods. The most common problems seems to be that while people would love to move into an older historic home in an old neighborhood, few are willing to go through the entire rehabilitation process due to funds, are scared of having to deal with major repairs or simply can't see the beauty hidden under grime and neglect of many years.

One of the books mentioned a historic neighborhood (and for the love of God, I can't remember the name of the city) that started a revolving fund for restorations.

This fund (acquired through grants, donations, etc.) was used to rehab a historic house from dilapidated neglected ruin to beautiful historic family home. When it was sold, the proceeds went back into the revolving fund to make-over the next house and so on, and so on.

We could team up with local schools that teach plumbing, carpentry, electrical, etc. and use the construction site as a learning site where the students gain hands-on experience not just in contemporary techniques but also raising interest and preserving the knowledge in historic construction and finishing methods as well (I'm just thinking of the beautiful Victorian fretwork of some of the houses in Springfield or the inlay work in some of the floors) while at the same time saving on labor costs.
I'm sure we could find a good number of volunteers to help with the smaller projects such as painting, tiling, etc. (similar to how "Habitat for Humanity" organizes their construction sites) seeing the success of projects such as "Random acts of beauty/kindness".

What do you think? For all I know, Preservation SOS has been tossing around ideas like that to help our mothballed or abandoned "ladies" :o)

Cheers
-Micha


Now, at this point and to increase the survival chances for our historic houses, we would need 1 dedicated investor with a heart for Historic Springfield and/or historic houses in general. 1 investor willing to create a revolving restoration fund of, say, $100,000. There are a number of houses in our neighborhood currently on the market for very little money. If we could acquire a house for $20,000 - $30,000 and put $30,000 - $40,000 into it, we could bring it to a point where a historic home lover who is afraid to tackle such a project on their own would feel more confident in buying one of our ladies.
On top of that, this house could be offered for a -very- competitive price even in this market (above mentioned example only uses $70,000 of our imaginary $100,000 fund) AND it would provide employment.

Just a thought.

Cathy_Campbell
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Re: Wanted: 1 investor with a heart for historic houses

Post by Cathy_Campbell » Wed Mar 23, 2011 11:26 am

It's a good thought and I like it. I would think we may even be able to get some of the materials donated as well.

But I don't know an investor with $100K to get it started.

But Christina Parrish may be someone you could contact. She has a house in the hood. She has mentioned starting a restoration foundation or something like that. Sorta what you're talking about.

Debbie Thompson
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Re: Wanted: 1 investor with a heart for historic houses

Post by Debbie Thompson » Wed Mar 23, 2011 12:04 pm

Historic Savannah has such a fund. It was started with seed money. I'll bet Christina knows all about it, because I'm pretty sure she said she worked with Historic Savannah at one point.

movedsouth
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Re: Wanted: 1 investor with a heart for historic houses

Post by movedsouth » Wed Mar 23, 2011 12:30 pm

I think it is an interesting idea. Another way to do this would be a "handholding" service. An investor would buy the house and pay for the renovation, but someone would be there to manage the process for them (for a fee).

One issue is that once you start talking investments and taking other people's money, things will get a lot more complicated. Nothing Preservation SOS could do right now I think and it should probably be done by a for-profit.

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Gloria
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Re: Wanted: 1 investor with a heart for historic houses

Post by Gloria » Wed Mar 23, 2011 7:49 pm

Micha,

It is a great idea.

Hummm....maybe a hundred people with a thousand dollars?
"To create a little flower is the labour of ages" William Blake

Scribeo
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Re: Wanted: 1 investor with a heart for historic houses

Post by Scribeo » Wed Mar 23, 2011 8:44 pm

Well, I'm pretty sure our "grand ladies" don't really care how many people are chipping in to help save them ;o) The more friends pitch in to save our Springfield, the better.

Unless you have actually -seen- with your own eyes how these houses can rise from the ashes, it is very hard to believe. Let's assume 1325 Laura St gets mothballed. Where will it stand in 5 years from now? 10 years? What can anybody do to find this house a caring owner? -We- know it can be saved, but again, for somebody who hasn't seen a similar transformation it is something that seems nigh impossible and unaffordable. I'm still dabbling with this historical home owner package I mentioned a while ago but I think we might have to take things a step further and steal ideas from other historical neighborhoods and their programs.

I'm not very well versed in US legalese. I'm "just" a legal permanent resident with a German passport who's nuts about Springfield :) Maybe Nicole as SOS Preservation president could touch as base with Christina Parrish and see what we can accomplish?

Speaking of "having seen the transformation" - if you own a home that has gone through one of those "hard to believe" amazing transformations, I'd love to feature you and your house on my blog. The "little old house" blog currently averages about 80 hits per day and after a post on city-data.com I noticed an average of 10 hits following that link to my renovation blog. Can't hurt to spread the word that there are others who share the joy in restoring and living in a historic home in Historic Springfield :)

-Micha
http://littleoldhouse.blogspot.com

iloveionia
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Re: Wanted: 1 investor with a heart for historic houses

Post by iloveionia » Wed Mar 23, 2011 11:03 pm

Micha,
I'll research more and talk to Christina. My Ionia house was an ugly duckling too. Still a work in progress. I have pics in a book here. Maybe I'll stop by and share.
Nicole Lopez

“One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries.” A.A. Milne

Debbie Thompson
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Re: Wanted: 1 investor with a heart for historic houses

Post by Debbie Thompson » Thu Mar 24, 2011 11:33 am

Love the blog, Micha

Scribeo
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Re: Wanted: 1 investor with a heart for historic houses

Post by Scribeo » Fri Mar 25, 2011 7:23 am

Nicole,

that'd be awesome! Thank you for all that you do for this historic neighborhood!

-Micha

Scribeo
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Re: Wanted: 1 investor with a heart for historic houses

Post by Scribeo » Fri Mar 25, 2011 7:23 am

Debbie,

thank you :)

-Micha

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