Center St. Residents looking for home demolition alternatives
By Darcie Loreno
T-G Staff Writer
A few weeks after the city’s Historic Preservation Board rejected an application to raze the A.N. Myers home, Center Street residents are compiling a list of other options for the 114 year old structure.
While the Ashland County Historical Society, which owns the building, is open to ideas, Center Street Historic District Association members hope to offer concrete, viable alternatives to demolishing the 408 Center St. Home.
“We felt we should take a look and see if there isn’t some way to come up with other ways to do this,” said Don Cadley, society and association member.
The society originally presented a plan to the Historic Preservation Board to raze the home and eventually build new as a more financially feasible option than renovation, which it said could cost up to $1 million. The home for years has been used as doctors’ offices, with apartments upstairs, and many of its historic features are no longer intact.
The board - responsible for reviewing exterior alterations in the Center Street Historic District - during an Aug. 2 meeting denied the request. Its regulations say during 60 days following such decisions, the board should review alternative uses. After 60 days, unless the property is purchased or leased, the application will be approved.
The week after the meeting, Cadley and another Center Street resident met with the society board and came away with plans to present suggestions. Christina Portz, association secretary, said so far about 25 Center Street residents have offered to put in 25 hours of labor on the house. They’ve also found several grants that could come in handy, she said.
“We want to make sure we give them viable options,” she said. “We just want to work with them to make it happen.”
In the meantime, society board president Phil Leibolt said the society did explore serveral alternatives itself and looked at grants, funding options and remodeling.
It replaced the roof and repaired corbels before getting a better look at the deteriorating building last year. According to a press release issued by the society, as much as 85 percent of the build would have to be replaced if renovated, with very little of the original building restored. It said the society board’s opinion is the historical value is void and renovation fiscally impossible.
It also said it was open to “any viable and funded solution” suggested by the preservation board. Its biggest need is display space.
Ideas discussed by Portz at the preservation board meeting included converting 2,760 square feet in the home to office space, which could cost $500,000, an estimate compiled by an architect the association hired to review the situation. That option would not include work on the basement or attic.
She also suggested moving office operations in the Noonan House - which cost $800,000 to build - to the renovated space.
Leibolt said the option involves more office space than the society will need anytime soon. Second, he said, it leaves much of the building in an unusable state. It could cost twice as much per square foot to renovate than to build new. The Noonan House contains about 8,100 square feet.
“It’s an idea, but not necessarily a viable idea for the society,” said Leibolt, who said government use codes make the job more expensive.
Kathy Aldrich, preservation board president, said her board met Monday in executive session to discuss its information on the situation.
“We were going over our things on what we can do and can not do and trying to understand it,” she said. “We’re still new and learning and trying to figure things out.”
Cadley acknowledged there may e no way to avoid demolition including financially, with the society responsible to be stewards for its members.
“I do feel we need to look at everything and then if it doesn’t work, everyone will be assured a good effort was made to save the building.” he said. “If we let it go by default, then I think we’re going to have a division in the community. But if we examine it carefully and come up with great ideas that work so much better...”