The 10-year flip

I started daily walks in Dec 2011, always centered on one place in the neighborhood. My intention was to ‘pray’ the old building into better shape. It took exactly ten years. I’ve been tracking it in the blog at important change points….

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Some of the notes, sorted by date:

Dec 2011: The only apartment building in the neighborhood is a two-story wood structure, possibly a WW2 barracks extensively remodeled. It’s been decaying for a long time and fully abandoned for a couple years.

May 2017: This building has been vacant for 20 years, and was squatted and vandalized in the last 5 years. Now it’s for sale. Zillow’s advertisement is more of an avertissement:

Approximately 8 units in disrepair. Needs to be redeveloped if building is to remain multi unit zone. Buyer to complete any and all of their own investigation as to codes and condition. The 8 unit may not be Grandfathered in. Owner to verify.

In other words, you’re basically buying the lot and the zoning, but you can’t count on the zoning to stay multi. Doesn’t sound like a good deal for $150k, but this year I’m sure it will get snapped up. The building may be savable. The shingles have crumbled with age but the roof looks intact and straight, miraculously unhurt by the windstorms in recent years.

A few days later, Zillow no longer shows the for-sale indication for the apt, and it doesn’t even show the Zestimate. All houses not currently for sale have a Zestimate, and all give a basic set of Zinformation when you Zclick. Not this one. It has become a Zunproperty.

June 15, 2017: MAJOR ACTION, comparatively speaking. A little barbecue grill that has been sitting at one corner of the building for 20 years has been moved out to the curb. The two old trucks at the back of the property (one a ’61 Chevy panel truck) are gone. The manhole for the water meter is uncovered.

July 9, 2017: Looks like the action indication was false. The barbecue grill is back where it was, and squatters have opened the doors again.

Aug 27, 2017: Getting worse. All the first-floor windows are boarded, and now for the first time a couple of the upstairs windows have been broken FORCEFULLY. Looks like someone heaved a brick from the ground, which takes serious strength and intent.

Oct 4, 2017: Looks like the city dysgovernment has purchased the property.

Sept 2018: Still vacant. It was apparently sold back in January 2018, but the new owner hasn’t done anything new. Squatters are still in control.

Feb 2019: The squatters FINALLY forced police attention by lighting a fire in the garage. After that, the owner FINALLY boarded up every opening on the house.

Mar 9, 2019: Now a PECULIAR thing has happened. The roof has been tarped neatly with tape around the edges. There’s a temporary chain-link fence around the entire property, with a sign that says DANGER CONSTRUCTION ZONE.

Mar 16, 2019: I think they’re RENOVATING instead of tearing down. They’ve unboarded the windows and I can see drywall and insulation stacked inside. They took off the tarp and they’re reshingling the roof.

April 8, 2019: Roof is done, and now they’re clearing out the interior. Looks like they plan to leave it as apts, not open it into a single residence.

July 25, 2019: Real action again. The big dumpster is gone, indicating that stripping is done. They’ve pulled out all the windowframes, and they’ve removed the old circuit breaker box.

Oct 15, 2019: The windows and doors have been out for three months. Windblown snow and rain is covering the bare subfloor. What was the point of fixing the roof if they’re just going to let the whole thing flood and rot anyway?

Mar 11, 2020: A year after the previous start of action, another apparent start of action. Contractors with trailers have opened the fence and started doing something. Will they finish the teardown or finish the renovation? Not clear yet.

Jun 12, 2020: They’re working somewhat steadily. They’ve cased all the window and door openings, reframed interior walls, and pulled up old driveways and sidewalks. Formerly the bldg had 4 apts downstairs and 4 up. Now it looks like they’re intending 3 down and 1 up.

Sept 3, 2020: After another 3-month gap, action suddenly started again. Now they’re rewiring and replumbing.

Sept 11, 2020: WINDOWS!

Oct 10, 2020: DOORS! After many years partly open, and more than one year wide open, the building is finally dried in.

Dec 26, 2020: Now the siding is done. They’re still finishing off outside details, and seem to be working inside occasionally.

May 22, 2021: They’ve finished everything except the foundation. New windows, new doors, new siding, inner walls rearranged and drywalled, HVAC, electric. Today they’re back at work, doing something utterly absurd. They’re replacing the new outer doors with DIFFERENT new outer doors, which look the same to my eyes. Probably forced by the utterly insane city zoning board, which exists for the sole purpose of impoverishing the poor and enriching the rich. This city was actively engaged in destroying its own people LONG before the “virus” genocide.

Oct 2, 2021: After another long gap they returned to action. They added a patio on the back side, and now they’ve taken down the security fence. Still no fix on the foundation, and there are still doors and pieces stacked inside.

Oct 23, 2021: Looks like they’re finally FINISHING, all at once. They’ve cleared and landscaped the ground, wired up the porch lamps, turned on the power, and they’re actually closing up the foundation!

Oct 30, 2021: Now that they’re about finished, they’re suddenly starting a NEW project. The house across the street from the apt, a fairly nice ’30s Cape, has been vacant for a year. The developers are renovating it, and today they are digging foundations for two brand new houses next to it. Looks like they’ve subdivided the large lot of this house into three lots, and also subdivided the apt’s lot into three lots.

Nov 27, 2021: FOR RENT sign.

Dec 1, 2021: First tenant.

Dec 6, 2021: The first tenant has put up a Christmas tree! The old building is happy now. Houses and humans want to be used, and this house was abandoned and unused for 20 years.

Dec 14, 2021: Second tenant moved in, and one of the new houses across the street is already framed up. They’re moving much faster on this new project, literally weeks instead of years!

Dec 22, 2021: Both new houses are framed and sheathed.

Jan 16, 2022: Both new houses are dried in, all windows and doors in, roofs shingled. Weather doesn’t slow down these contractors. The architects have done a good job of matching the nice ’60s houses on the next block. These will fit in perfectly.

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Exactly ten years of walking and watching, and about five years of simulated action-like substance. If the genuine construction had been condensed into a steady full-time job, it would have taken about six weeks.