DIY OTR: What it takes to make a decaying old house a renovated, historic home

Workshops encourage owner-occupied home ownership

Jim Uber felt a bit like a pioneer when he bought a condominium at Trideca Lofts in Over-the-Rhine about six years ago.

It wasn't unusual for him to see yellow caution tape around a crime scene near his condo, across the street from where The Lackman bar is now located. One night after The Lackman opened, a homicide occurred on Vine Street, just a couple blocks north of his home.

A crowd of about 30 people walked out of the bar and watched the police for a while before going back inside to continue drinking, Uber said.

"It kind of told me that people understood that this was a place that was transitioning, and it would continue to be that way for some time," he said.

The reaction gave Uber confidence that people would stick with the neighborhood as its redevelopment continued. And it gave him and his wife, LotuSh Chang, the courage to be even more pioneering and purchase a 3,000 square-foot building near 15th and Elm streets to renovate for themselves.

"We love living here," he said. "If you crave authenticity, it's everywhere here."

For years, people who crave that authenticity have been buying old buildings in Over-the-Rhine and redeveloping them into the homes where they live. But that work isn't easy or cheap. Many of the decaying, old buildings in Over-the-Rhine need expensive repairs just to stabilize them, and the rehab projects can be filled with surprises.

To help potential buyers understand what it takes to make an old building into a home, the Over-the-Rhine Foundation is launching a spring workshop series called Owner-Occupied OTR. The workshop will offer tips on selecting property, figuring out financing and navigating the requirements for historic properties and historic districts.

Insiders can read about the specific challenges faced by people who decided to take the plunge and why the foundation believes owner-occupied housing is critical for the neighborhood's future.


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