May 24, 2004

That Queasy Old Building Feeling

A couple of weeks ago, I thought I would take the freeway to school/work, but the freeway was choked and so I took the frontage road. Finding myself lost but going in the right direction, I rode past this building. Pretty cool, I thought, and I made a note of its location.

When I got home, I told Mrs. Blog about it and a couple of days later we went over to take some pictures.

P1010019.jpgWe have a thing for old buildings. And we should really know better: the roof leaked like a sieve on our last old commercial building, eventually collapsing on the person who bought the building from us. You could say that Mrs Blog and I are pie-eyed dreamers when it comes to old buildings. Fortunately for us, the Crosby-Block Building is located in St. Paul, and thus is too expensive for us to purchase. If it was located somewhere in the boonies like our old home/business was, we could probably afford to get in over our heads -- again. It is probably not a coincidence that I find major architectural projects important and interesting right at the point when grad school looks more and more like it is incapable of making me happy. "I'm sick of delayed gratification: I want something big and fun to work on NOW!"

The building itself is a delight: big window frames (which all but the third story need to be replaced), our kind of location (not 50 feet from the railroad tracks: part sits above the tracks, and part below), and neither too large to be unwieldy nor too small to be impractical. The ground floor fairly screams for a cafe or bar (with room enough for both!), while the upstairs could house a residence and a studio above. See what I mean about the pie-eyed dreamer?

P1010014.JPG According to articles in the local press, the building was a drug-infested slum a couple of years ago. The slumlord was pretty much forced to sell by the neighbors, who had recruited undercover cops to make arrests there. The first pie-eyed dreamer wanted to convert it to graphic design studios (good idea!), but got ripped off by his contractor and abandoned the project. The current owners planned to convert the apartments to condos, which might work if one could resolve the fire access and egress issues, which I suspect were responsible for condemnation in the first place. At any rate, by June the new owners had already run out of money. They were pie-eyed dreamers once too.

- You could have a studio on the second floor and we could have an AWESOME penthouse on the third!

- We could build a carriage house out back for the bikes. Or have a garden!

- We could almost afford it. Maybe the owners just want to get out from under, like we did in Dunsmuir.

- The city would love to have some preservation-minded artistic types take it over. And besides, without all those units we wouldn't need so many exits!

A public hearing on the building is slated for early June. If you go you might yet see Mrs. Blog there.

Posted by webs0080 at May 24, 2004 6:14 AM