Union Hill rebirth almost complete

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New construction blends in with historic homes on Union Hill.

By Joe Lambe

Developer Bob Frye has been chipping away on Union Hill like a sculptor since 1982, and the final chips are falling.

The neighborhood dating from 1857 is getting 13 infill houses and more than 180 apartments in five buildings.

union hill apartmentsTwo of the completed houses have sold in recent weeks after being on the market for less than a month, Frye said Monday.

The houses are valued at $5 million overall and will sell for from $367,000 to $448,000.

All the work is to be finished by early next year in the redevelopment area bounded by Main Street and Gillham Road, 31st Street to Crown Center.

Then, Frye said, “We’re interested in going beyond those original boundaries,” but he does not know where yet.

In some ways it is harder to gather land to do a project like Union Hill today, he said, because land speculators are a problem and it is harder to use condemnation.

“On the other hand, the downtown market is incredibly strong,” he said. “We’ve sold more houses in the last month than we would have in a year in the 1980s.”

Union Hill and other projects have shown what can be done, he said. “When we started, I think most people thought we were crazy.”

Houses there sell because they blend in with the historic character of the neighborhood but have been tweaked for modern taste, he said.

Also he says they and the area fit his motto: “physically safe and fiscally safe.”

The new houses include designs of Cape Cod, shirtwaist, federal and Victorian to blend with historic homes there.

“We hope that what we do is timeless,” he said. “A decade from now nobody will ever know when it was built and it will just blend.”

When work is done, he said, there will be 1,300 people living in a pricy 16-block historic area that has recovered from blight.

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2 responses to “Union Hill rebirth almost complete”

  1. But not at the expense of two holes in my tires from nails, dust blowing in my windows since august, cat calls from construction workers, banging at 6am…not to mention the sweet sounds of BEEP BEEP BEEP of trucks backing up thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and Mother’s Day morning. When they start building the row houses across the street from the mayor, he better get the same effing headaches.

    Why doesn’t this article show any of the large amounts of debris, jagged wood, pikes of broken bricks, sink holes in the streets etc?

    Can’t wait for when my building is bought out and I’m forced to leave the neighborhood I so dearly love. Hope the developer can find me a place equally as beautiful and safe for $550 a month.

  2. This woman sounds like a contrarian….what is the alternative? Decade after decade of no caring and proper stewardship of a community?! Blank lots, crime and capital flight,lady, I am sorry if your on the “outside looking in,” but your prospective would taken to completion would be a community of nothing but vacant lots, weeds,and a community in ruin, which is where the entire inner city core has been going for decades, enjoy your low rent in the midst of all that.

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