|One of the historic VA Homes. FTM file.|
The ten homes were built in the 1890's and housed officers before shipping them off to Cuba to fight in the Spanish-American War. It's housed soldiers and employees of the Veteran's Affairs after.
The price to buy the homes has been set at $510,000. The city will buy them from VA officials, help facilitate the removal of the asbestos and lead paint and then transfer them to Cincinnati-based developer Bloomfield/Schon + Partners. The plan is to renovate the homes and sell them individually to private owners.
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Will it all work out?
Well, you can look to the success of the redevelopment of a similar situation in Seattle suburb, Fort Lawton called Discovery Park. Twenty-six military homes went for sale in 2015. The similarities are eerily close to the redevelopment in Fort Thomas.
|In Fort Lawton, newly renovated century-old homes are in the middle of a 500-acre city park on the shores of Puget Sound. Photo: Amber Fouts for The Wall Street Journal|
Architects and interior designers worked with the city’s Landmarks Preservation Board to maintain each home’s iconic Colonial-Revival architecture and other historic attributes.
The homes on Officer’s Row offer between 4,027 and 6,600 square feet of living space. Each home has received seismic upgrades, new roofs and all-new electrical and plumbing, as well as artfully inspired kitchen and bathroom renovations.
The appetite had been building in Discovery Park since they obtained the land, much like in Fort Thomas. So what did they sell for?
|Photo: Amber Fouts for The Wall Street Journal|
And they did. The first 13-homes sold at fast pace after more than 2,000 would-be buyers preregistered on the project’s marketing site. Sale prices went for well above the starting price, with an average sale price of $1.1 million.
The developer expanded kitchens, finished the basements and installed modern electrical, plumbing and heating systems as well as wiring for high-speed Internet. Every home’s powder room has unique wallpaper, and there are quirky fireplaces. For construction work on each home, the company spent an average $200,000 in Montana Circle and $400,000 in Officer’s Row.
In Fort Thomas, there will be a few more obstacles to overcome because the infrastructure is still somewhat of an unknown. Utilities are assumed to be lacking which looms large for the developer. Add in the fact that the homes have severely decayed because of the lack of occupancy and there are a few differences in the two situations, which is reflected in the price the VA is offering Fort Thomas.
In Fort Lawton, there are only six of the 26 homes left which went for sale in February. Those range from a four-bedroom, three-bathroom, 4,000-square-foot Prosch floor plan offered at $2 million, to the “Grand Dame” Ellicott floor plan, featuring six bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms and 6,278 square feet of living space, and offered at $2.9 million.
| Photo: Amber Fouts for The Wall Street Journal.|
To create a sense of community, he said, buyers will be restricted from flipping the property within the first year of ownership. The association’s governing documents also will require that any rentals be long-term.
Details like this are still hypotheticals in Fort Thomas, but the success coupled with the enthusiasm of city officials certainly makes you dream.
This story will be updated.