|Joe Schwerling recently sold one of his many properties to the Haas brothers, and plans to sell two more in the next few years.|
Meet Joe Schwerling. He attends almost every single Fort Thomas city council meeting. He calls Duke to tell them when street lights are out. He loves the color orange. And he's a collector of properties in Fort Thomas—one of which was just demolished after he recently sold it to Lan Haas and Ryan Haas, sons of Mayor Eric Haas.
Schwerling's purchases look like a well-played game of Monopoly, as they're all on the corner of Mayfield and Highland Ave.
It started in 1980, when Schwerling bought the duplex at 9 Mayfield for his twin sister to move into. Four years later he bought the house next door from an elderly gentleman, "who was younger than I am now," Schwerling says, laughing. The following year he bought the two houses next to it on Highland Ave. And then he bought the tudor house next to the duplex on Mayfield. (He also owns the house his parents built in 1955 on Holiday Lane.)
|Demolition of 117 Highland has already begun.|
The Haas brothers purchased 117 Highland. Its lot went all the way back to one of Schwerling's houses on Mayfield. Last year Schwerling sold another one of his houses, a Victorian, which he renovated in 2011. But when he did so, he carved off the back part of its lot, which adjoins the park, 600 feet back. This made it possible to do two adjoining lots for the Haas brothers, so they could build one house up front and another behind the Victorian.
|Lan, Emma, Katie and Ben Haas.|
|Ryan, Kate and Mason Haas.|
|While the red brick was a 1960s addition, Joe Schwerling estimates the older portion of 117 Highland to have been 170 years old.|
Schwerling says selling his properties doesn't necessarily make him sad, except for the fact that he wasn't able to finish what he tried to do. "I had been planning and stockpiling materials, windows and doors, to renovate the old part of the house [117 Highland], which is older than the City of Fort Thomas," he says. "I estimated it to be about 170 years old, whereas the red brick portion was added in the 1960s. I decided that it was too much for me to take on the renovation."
Schwerling gave away most of the windows and doors to a combination of Habitat for Humanity's ReStore, Hosea (who is doing the demolition) and Building Value.
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"Now I'm going to concentrate on renovating my three that are on Mayfield," Schwerling says.
His first project? Replacement garages on at least two, maybe all three, because they're difficult to access. "I'm going to concentrate on the exterior improvements that are going to make them match the houses that are going to be next door and the Victorian," Schwerling says.
|This is another one of Schwerling's properties on Highland, next door to the recently demolished house.|
Schwerling owns a total of four houses now, and plans to sell two of them in the next year or two, once he has them in a good condition to sell, he says.
About those city council meetings? "I just like to keep track of what's going on," Schwerling. "I'll put in my two cents worth every now."
And the color orange? Schwerling's birthday is near Halloween, so it's always been one of his favorite colors. "It was just a hobby that I took on about 15 years ago. It makes people smile and I just like the color orange. It simplifies thing."
And people do take notice, and smile. In 2014, when outgoing city council member Tom Lampe was giving gifts, he gave one to Schwerling—an orange.
Here you can see two videos of the demolition of 117 Highland Ave.: