Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Charitone updates: Seeing sky

Look up from street level through fourth-floor windows at the Hotel Charitone's east end these days and you'll see sky --- old roof off; new roof on as construction workers move to seal the building so interior work can begin.

Actually, the roof is being replaced incrementally, starting at the east end where water damage was most severe during years when the old building was virtually abandoned. Johnson Machine Works is fabricating the steel clips that will be needed to support new trusses. Completion goal for the roofing project is the end of November, according to Ray Meyer, who provided two updates last week --- one to Bill Howes for a report in Thursday's Herald-Patriot and the other for those of us who attended Thursday's Non Profits Roundable..

C & D Masonry, of Perry, already has repaired most of the exterior brickwork on the fourth-floor level, separated over the years from structural walls --- again, by seepage --- and reworked segments of interior wall at that level as well.

The other most noticeable part of the restoration project is the absence of windows on the north and east facades. These openings will be filled with reproduction windows as part of the sealing project. Existing windows (now hiding behind plywood for the most part) will be refurbished on the North Grand and Braden Avenue facades in accordance with Department of the Interior guidelines. That's a necessity when federal and state tax credits are part of the financing package for restoration of a National Register-listed building.

Once sealed, a good deal of work remains to be done inside before the fun stuff begins. Steel supports will be sandblasted and perhaps in some cases replaced and concrete work also will be dealt with. The whole place also needs to dry out thoroughly, since water has cascaded for years from roof to basement, especially at the east end.

Two minor changes at street level also were evident last week. The stubby porch over the main entrance was removed --- the original recessed main entrance will be restored. And preparations were beginning to restore the window that sometime during the 1930s was turned into a door to allow direct access from street to restaurant.

I've including here two preliminary plans for the Charitone's interior. These are not up to date, since they are taken from "story boards" prepared for use during public presentations when the Charitone project began earlier this year --- but are generally accurate. The original presentation material lives at the museum when not on the road, so anyone who wants to take a closer look is welcome to stop in and do so.

Current plans call for the first floor of the Charitone to be filled with a restaurant and meeting room in original locations, along with kitchen and service areas. A bar has been proposed for the old lobby end of the building, with two entrances sandwiched between --- the original south entrance primarily for the public; a new north entrance for apartment residents and those who need handicap access.

Four apartments are planned for each of the three upper levels. Three of those on each floor will have two bedrooms; the fourth, one bedroom.

No, a firm completion date has not yet been set for the project; and, no, the final cost hasn't been calculated --- although millions are involved. You may recall that major commitments to the project have come so far from Hy-Vee, $1.6 million, and the Vredenburg Foundation, $500,000.

Some have asked what the apartment rent will be and, again, no firm figures are available. This will not be subsidized housing and the apartments are intended to provide something lacking in Chariton now --- quality rental housing priced at the upper end of the market.

Some idea might be gained by looking at the Masonic Building in Osceola, which several of us visited early this year. That much older and smaller structure, restored at a cost of $2.2 million, includes six apartments on its upper two levels. One-bedrooms there rent for $750 and two-bedrooms, for $850. If interested in that project, undertaken by the same architect, Kirk Bluck, and contractor, Koester Preservation, now working in Chariton, you can read more here.

The Charitone as it looked in late September, before the landmark sign had been removed for storage and restoration.

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