Home Tour: Parksite Condos showplaces in OTR

Posted at 5:00 AM, Feb 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-26 05:00:07-05

CINCINNATI -- Would you pay $500,000 for a $1 million view of Over-the-Rhine? And if you did, what would you get?

Whether you would feel like you got a half-price deal — value, if you will — depends on your expectations. The condominium tour we host today should help potential buyers put this kind of opportunity into perspective.

The project: Parksite Condos,an eight-unit building at 1316-1318 Race St. developed for about $3.6 million by the non-profit Cincinnati City Center Development Corporation (3CDC).

The units: Six remain unsold since coming on the market in December and January. The two-bedroom, two-bathroom condos range from 998 square feet to 1,149 square feet, are priced at $450,000-$500,000 and come with monthly homeowner association fees of $287-$330.

Amenities: Secure entrance, elevator, all-new interiors and insulation, high-end appliances, hall-closet laundry and mechanicals, original fireplaces (non-working) and wooden mantels, shared rooftop deck.

The view: Parksite’s units feature large windows that face Washington Park and historical Music Hall. The rooftop deck affords a 360-degree vista of Over-the-Rhine and Downtown.

Project supervisor Sara Bedinghaus, for more than five years a senior development officer for 3CDC, led our tour of Parksite. She showed us two empty units and one unit that is staged with furnishings to give potential buyers an idea of what can be done with about 1,000 square feet of living space.

High Cost For High Value

We asked Bedinghaus right up front to talk to the fact that at a cost of about $450 per square foot, Parksite Condos are among the most expensive in Over-the-Rhine.

“The market tells us that people are willing to pay at a higher price point,” Bedinghaus said.

“For some people, there’s value to being able to walk to the restaurants, to the park, to Findlay Market and to the symphony. It allows some people to get rid of a car and park just one in the Washington Park garage.”

There are valid reasons, Bedinghaus said, that Parksite Condos are the priciest 3CDC has developed.

“In terms of price point and sticker shock, these projects are always going to be pricey because of the condition of the buildings,” she said. “These buildings have been neglected for 20, 30, 40, 50 years.” 

That neglect led to water leaks that eroded Parksite’s structure and damaged its floors. All new insulation, drywall, trim, flooring, wiring, plumbing, heating and cooling, kitchens, bathrooms and fireplace hearths were required, and the tight site restrictions challenged construction, driving up 3CDC’s investment, she said.

“I actually wanted to keep as much of the historical character as possible, but once you get into it, you find all this mold and wood that’s falling apart.”

The work guided by Bedinghaus and carried out in most part by Hudepohl Construction and the Drawing Dept., resulted in a rare commodity for the non-profit: residences that required no outside preservation or historical grant money that will more than pay for themselves.

Aimed For Walking Lifestyle

Up until recently, condominiums with square-footage costs of $450 or more had been unheard of in Over-the-Rhine, in part because the concept of a there being value in having walking lifestyle “had been a foreign concept in Cincinnati,” Bedinghaus said.

Those who embrace that concept — the possibility of owning no car or just one — as well as the beauty of Music Hall and Washington Park and access to the streetcar right outside their front door will be drawn to Parksite Condos.

“If you go out there and look, the number of houses that face the park aren’t that many. So that’s part of the value, too,” Bedinghaus said. “Yeah. It’s changed a lot,” she said of the Over-the-Rhine housing market.

The only Parksite buyer so far (who chose not to be part of this story) thought highly enough of the condos’ value to purchase two third-floor units and convert them to one.

Taking The Tour

A metal sign that reads “Parksite Apartments” still hangs on the façade of 1316-1318 Race St. Enclosed by a heavy iron fence with gates, the double-entrance building used to be split into 43 units, bedrooms mostly, with shared toilets and sinks. What had been conceived as a home for families when it was built had morphed into flophouse by the latter part of the 20th century.

Today, the interior walls that once divided Parksite into tiny rental units are gone. The entry halls are all new as are the iron-railed staircases and elevator. Each unit opens through a red door with deadbolt lock and peep hole.

We toured Parksite Condos No. 3 ($500,000) on the second floor. Just inside the door is a built-in bench with cubby holes below and two open shelves above. Like all the trim in the units, they are painted bright white.

The small entry space leads into the living room and No. 3’s dominant feature: a three-window bay that juts out over the sidewalk directly across from Washington Park and Music Hall. This is the so-called $1 million view. 

The ceilings are 10-footers, the walls are painted a light gray and the medium-toned hardwood floors are the click-together variety that extend throughout the condo. An antique fireplace mantel — one of 20 in the building that are all different — is painted white, and its “as is” condition tells of the building’s history. 

The kitchen off the living room is all about now. It features high-end stainless steel appliances, white subway tile backsplash, off-white quartz countertops and storage by Cooknee Euro Style Cabinets.

Through the kitchen is the first of two bedrooms and a hall that winds past a shelved storage closet with gray double doors and a similar set up for a stacked washer-dryer set and furnace. Beyond that is a bathroom with a tub/shower, toilet and single sink.

At the back of condo No. 3 is the master bedroom suite, a 14-by-12-foot space with two north-facing windows, a red door to the fire escape and rooftop deck and a bathroom with walk-in closet, glassed-in shower and double vanity sinks.

The color scheme is the same gray-and-white used in the front of the house, and the plumbing and lighting fixtures are chrome.

Quiet Is a Feature

The clean design and modern amenities hide what Bedinghaus said are two of the project’s most important features: its insulation and soundproofing. Insulation was blown in between the old masonry walls and new drywall, and there are several layers of sound-proofing materials between each of Parksite’s four floors. Click-together flooring was chosen for its insulation value, she said.

(Bedinghaus said she is anxious to find out how quiet the rooms on Race Street will be when the streetcar is up and running this fall.)

The building’s elevator ends on the fourth floor, so visitors have to climb one flight of stairs to get to the 650-square-foot rooftop, which features recycled rubber decking and is hooked into the building’s gas and water systems.

“It’s a great view that’s going to be better when Music Hall is all fixed up,” Bedinghaus said, adding that it will be “a great place to play count the steeples.”