Saturday, August 09, 2014

Upstairs at Piper's: Reopening great spaces

Future living room, dining room-kitchen and (beyond) a bedroom of  the two-bedroom Piper's apartment.

I've been anxious to see how the new apartments under construction on the square this summer are shaping up as Chariton's upper-level housing initiative moves into high gear, so Jill took me on a tour this week of work going on upstairs at Piper's. Framing is for most part complete now and the area ready for plumbing, electrical and finishing work.

This program, funded by a state-administered grant of federal funds and both city and building-owner matches, was announced during 2012, but the design phase has been a long one. Because vintage buildings are involved, Department of the Interior guidelines must be followed and that includes supervision by the State Historic Preservation Office.

When the project is completed --- and Jill anticipates that her apartments will be done in November --- 10 new units will be ready for occupancy in old spaces, the upper levels of business buildings that were for the most part closed off and disconnected from the grid when Autumn Park, Southgate, Woodlawn, Ilion Avenue and other then-new apartment housing options became available.

Two of the apartments are in the Piper's building; four in the Iowa Realty building, just southeast across the intersection of Braden and North Grand; and four in the Demichelis building on the northwest corner of the square, intersection of Braden and North Main.

When I first visited upstairs at Piper's a year or so ago, I told Jill I wanted the one-bedroom front apartment, lighted by huge windows that look out over the square. Now I'm not so sure, the two-bedroom apartment to the north, fronting on North Grand, has some dramatic spaces, too.

The photo at the top looks north from the living room of the north apartment through doubled doors into the combined dining room-kitchen and beyond that, into the south bedroom (where a blinded window will be reopened). A large bedroom is located at either end of the apartment. This space originally contained two very small apartments, now thrown together into a very large one.

This is the kitchen recess, just north of the front door of the north apartment --- formerly part of the hallway that was located all along the west wall of the building. That hall now ends at the apartment's front door.

Entrance to the upper-level apartments will continue to be the Piper's Building original exterior stair, although it will be rejuvenated and the landing at the top rebuilt after the store's air conditioning unit is moved to the roof (each of the apartments will have its own heating/cooling units). Obviously, these upper level units are intended for tenants who don't mind, and can handle, stairs.

The door at the top of the star leads into an east-west hallway that divides the south and north apartments. Entrance to the south apartment is just inside the exterior door. An emergency door into the north apartment's south bedroom opens just inside the exterior door, too, but the front entrance is reached by taking a right down a stub of the hall that formerly was located all along the west wall of the building.

The front door of the south apartment opens into the kitchen/dining room lighted by two tall windows in its east wall.

Beyond this room is my favorite room in the building, a living room that because of its two east windows and double south window seems suspended above the northeast corner of the square. The door to the right opens into the bedroom, where double south windows overlook the courthouse.

This is the view north from living room through the kitchen/dining area to the front door.

Obviously, the restored Hotel Charitone figures largely in the view from all the upper-level Piper's windows.

Here's a view from Piper's of the Iowa Realty building, where four more apartments are being constructed. All of those blinded windows will be reopened before the project is done.


Anonymous said...

These are all exciting developments in Chariton. Hats off to y'all for using your imaginations to see what is possible. The results are stunning!

Anonymous said...

This all kind of makes me want to move back home. What a wonderful, wonderful thing!

Anonymous said...

Who are these 10 apartments designed to serve? Obviously not seniors since they are not handicapped accessible. Nor are they suitable for families with young school age children. I am surprised the use of any federal money was approved for them since they are not handicapped accessible.

Frank D. Myers said...

Chariton has an abundance of senior housing and low-income housing, but is very lacking in two areas: new construction for families and rental housing options for working/professional singles, couples and small families. The latter is the intended niche for the upper-level housing initiative.

The grant funds used this time were targeted specifically at this niche and specifically at existing but under- or non-utilized upper level spaces (if Chariton had not applied, other towns would joyfully have accepted and similarly utilized the grant funds). The next major housing effort in Chariton, endorsed by City Council Monday, will involve duplex new construction.

Considerable federal funds are expended to encourage historic preservation efforts nationwide, and this Chariton project falls into that category, too. Restored and/or repurposed vintage structures often are exempted from some ADA regulations, including access, in order to preserve the integrity of the original building. In this case, the nature of the target niche, the preservation factor and the extreme cost of elevator installation factored into authorization for use.

Norm Prince said...

The photo of the hotel shows an access to the basement level which I am not sure I had seen before after the project was completed. I think the railing along the street looks great, works to protect yet still leaves much light to enter the lower windows. Very nice.


Frank D. Myers said...

That originally was the entrance to a barber shop as well as a beauty shop on the lower level. It had never been blocked, but the rail was not nearly as attractive as the current one. Window wells along the south side of the building, cemented in many years ago, were reopened and grilled during the renovation, so the basement now is flooded with light from one end to the other. There's nothing there now other than mechanicals for the bar/restaurant above, but a good deal of elevator-accessible space remains available for further development.

karen608 said...

I'm very delighted that apartments are being made in the buildings on the square. Very nice views.