Renovations of the 150-year-old building that accommodates the Olivia Villas apartments at 26 and 28 W. High St. were completed early October, despite historical preservation concerns from the city of Oxford.
According to Park Place Real Estate Engineer Tom Kacachos, the building is one of the tallest in Oxford and because of its historic presence uptown, the goal was to redesign and engineer the building rather than demolish it.
“The building looked terrible,” Kacachos said via e-mail. “I wanted it to remain historic but also use modern technology to strengthen the building so that it can last another 100 years.”
Kacachos said renovations included gutting the whole interior so a fourth floor could be added to the originally three-story building.
Alan Kyger, Oxford’s director of economic development, said that with a ceiling more than 17 feet tall, there was no reason for Park Place not to add space for more tenants.
“Uptown Oxford is a highly attractive area to build apartments,” Kyger said. “Why not take the top floor, cut it in half and make two floors out of it?”
In addition to adding another floor, Park Place re-vamped the electric system, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, framing, plumbing, sprinklers and fire alarm system. Also, the exterior aluminum siding was removed, exposing brick on the outside, and new windows were placed at the third and fourth floor levels where there used to be just one oversized window.
Throughout the construction process, Park Place met with Oxford’s Historical and Architectural Preservation Commission (HAPC) to ensure the building would maintain its historical presence, according to Kacachos.
According to Kyger, because the building was built in the late 1800s, the condition of the original foundation materials was unknown, causing renovation to take longer than expected.
After construction began in April 2008, the project was delayed for 12 weeks over the summer due to code disagreements and misunderstandings between Park place and the city, Kacachos said.
“It was not an effort to slow down (the project) because the city wants to stop their effort,” Kyger said. “It was slowed because the city wants to protect the uptown.”
Kacachos said the main reason for the construction delay was that the project fell under Article 34 of the Ohio Building Code.
Article 34 states that parameters of a building, often a historic building, must be evaluated for fire safety, general safety and exit ways. If the parameters meet the code provisions, the building passes code provisions without having to meet every requirement of a building code for newly built structures.
After the standards of Article 34 were met and construction was complete, tenants moved in Oct. 8.
Although the tenants are moved in, the two designated commercial spaces on the first floor remain vacant.
Kacachos said Park Place is currently in the process of finding commercial tenants.