Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Celebrating a save

Yesterday, I attended the ribbon cutting at the Parazin Building, a building that appeared frighteningly close to being lost just a few years ago.

Developer Ben Kendig (who also rehabilitated the Landmark Society's offices in Corn Hill back in the 1990s) acquired the building in 2006 and, along with Bob Lindsay and Paul Sullivan, has just finished converting it into office and residential space, in keeping with the new direction High Falls is taking away from the "entertainment district" idea and toward a mixed-use neighborhood of offices and apartments. So far, this new direction seems to be a fruitful one, with the Parry Building enjoying great success as a similar mixed-use rehab and other projects coming to completion soon.

I had been particularly curious to see how this stone building could be successfully converted into apartments, given its narrow footprint. Rather than run a hallway down the center of the building, which would have left little space on either side, there is (at least on the second floor, which was open for tours) a short hallway along one side, with a big unit at each end and two smaller ones along the side for a total of four units per floor. The resulting spaces - especially those facing the gorge - have great views and wonderful light, along with the requisite granite countertops, open floor plans, and high ceilings.

It's exciting to see new projects like this coming online even in the midst of such challenging economic times. What a great example of adaptive reuse - a sensible approach at any time, but particularly important when both economic and environmental conditions point to a need to conserve, rather than squander, our resources. As Mayor Duffy noted in his remarks, this project will create jobs and provide more momentum to the ongoing turnaround in the historically significant High Falls district.

If you'd like to learn more about High Falls, check out our online self-guided tour, which you can take with you to the district (it's a few years old, and doesn't fully reflect the most recent developments in the district's transformation, but of course the historical information remains accurate) - and stay tuned for this year's Inside Downtown Tour, which will take you inside some of the most exciting new projects in and around High Falls in late September.

Posted by Katie Eggers Comeau, Director of Preservation Services


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