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Granite Street Condominiums

Site Plan
grntcndo.gif (26456 bytes)After long reflection over how to transform the two rental buildings on Granite Street into attractive condominiums affordable to current renters, Land Trust staff members Christine Sidon and Vicki Lindsay, in collaboration with architect Tim Thurman, general contractor Kent Ellis, and consultant John Davis of Burlington Associates, created a design and development plan, which won the affordable housing design competition sponsored by the Warren Bank. Staff are now seeking the funding necessary to make the plan to create 14 permanently affordable owner occupied condominiums a reality.

Building "A" contains 10-units and the adjacent building "B" contains 6units. The two buildings have a rich history -- the large building, an attractive Victorian row house, once housed soldiers returning from the Civil War, and later seafarers in need of room and board while their ships were in the port of Gloucester. The small building was the site of a tin factory. The 16 apartments were acquired by the Land Trust in 1993 in a severely dilapidated state. The most serious problems, including dangerous heating systems, copious lead paint in both buildings, and a badly decayed foundation in the 10 unit building, have already been addressed.

The rehab planned will dramatically improve the interiors and exteriors of both buildings. Building "A" requires a new roof, clapboard siding, insulation, upgraded wiring, new water pipes, bath fixtures, flooring and upgraded kitchens. Building "B" will require a complete reconfiguration of the interior space to create 2 two-bedroom and 2 four-bedroom condominium units , as well as a large common room. At least one of the two-bedroom units will be handicapped accessible.

We had long puzzled over how best to make use of the sturdily built smaller building, until designer Tim Thurman suggested rolling it to the back of the site. This building now is precariously positioned upon a retaining wall, too close to the larger building and too close to the street, creating an awkward and potentially dangerous space between the two buildings. One of the greatest assets of this property is the exceptionally large yard. The new site plan fully surrounds the yard with the dwellings, making a safe and protected play area, visible from all of the units. By relocating the building we can better use the site, improve both safety and aesthetics, and make improved use for affordable housing of all of the materials and labor which have been invested in the building.

Moving a building may sound like an extraordinary undertaking, but it is actually an old and honored Gloucester tradition. Many of the most beautiful buildings in central Gloucester, including the Forbes School, were moved from site to site on large log rollers, pulled by horse teams. Some were first brought from Boston on barges. Today, the process is similar. A "crib" of large steel beams is built below the wood framing of the building, which is then jacked up and set down upon large drums and rolled to the new foundation. The cost of moving the building is only about 3% of the total project, but dramatically improves the site and creates a more beautiful space for all 14 occupants.

Mr. Thurman's imaginative design creates attractive floor plans, adds interior space by removing three of four interior stairways, and provides egress via a new handsome stairway and deck, affording maximum connection to, and enjoyment of, the lovely yard. The new location will take advantage of the topography of the site. In its current position the entire basement is underground and is unused; in its new locale the yard side of the basement will be above grade, permitting the creation of a bright, handicapped accessible, garden level common room for meetings and celebrations.

Sale prices will be $35,000 for a studio, $44,000 for a one-bedroom, $58,000 to $62,000 for a two-bedroom and $71,000 for a four-bedroom unit.

We are extremely grateful to the ICE revolving loan fund for its financing, moral support, and technical assistance, and to Mr. Ed Anderson who has provided important bridge financing for this project. The Warren Bank's innovative Affordable Housing Design Competition has once again helped us to define the project, and promises to help us to obtain the needed funding to bring the design to reality.

 

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