Really, all I wanted for Christmas was a Roomba, but Aaron got that for me. So the guy with a Bobcat moved to the first slot on the list.
I should probably explain.
We talked about it briefly when we bought the extra, extra lot, but property in the city is weird. In the suburbs you have a yard and your neighbor has a yard, and not much is going to change that. It’s even better in the country. You have land and your neighbor has land, and you probably can’t even see each other from your house. Everyone is good with that, and not much is going to change.
The city is totally different. It’s the wild, wild west of property ownership. You own property and your neighbor owns property, but it’s RIGHT next to yours and sometimes your neighbor is a church that decides to expand a parking lot (explanation near the end of this post).
This time the change is to our east side. This side has been a bone of contention since our “neighbor” bought the lot that we envisioned as our yard out from under us. The main reason we wanted that lot was because most of our windows face east. Until we added windows in the downstairs living room, we had to physically walk outside to see anything on the west side of the building.
I digress, to the east of the firehouse, within a few narrow lots, is a power substation and a massive old brick building. Actually, there WAS a massive brick building. It nearly encompassed our view and being lovers of old buildings we… well, we loved it.
That is from the kitchen window. Here’s a look from the upstairs (moving from the back of the building to the front.)
At a meeting last year, a bride’s father who works for Ameren (our local power company) told us that the building was slated to be torn down. This was not a huge surprise to us. The power company had a demo permit a few years ago but let it expire. We know this because in the wild west of real estate, you get really familiar with the city’s online real estate resources.
Still it wasn’t something we actively thought or worried about, until we woke up on a Friday in October to see chain link fence being assembled around the perimeter.
The time had come, and it wasn’t going to be a quick or silent farewell. Over the last two months we’ve watched this awesome old building literally be destroyed (not salvaged in the least). We have slammed our windows shut in the nicest part of the year to avoid the demolition dust. We have felt our building shake as they jack hammered the foundation. We have called the police and the Ameren hotline and our alderman to get a 24/7 demo permit revoked. (I wish I was joking. They literally planned to – and did for two nights – set up lights and jack hammer next to our building through the night.)
Slowly it crumbled and sank and was covered and it still isn’t done… But the damage is evident. Our view is profoundly different. We feel exposed.
On one hand, it makes our location feel more urban. You can see much more of the area and there are some cool buildings. But it is also less secluded.
(Upstairs moving from back to front of the building.)
The view from the kitchen took the biggest blow. Here’s a before and after.
It’s worse at night…
Our plan has always been to create a living fence out of evergreens (specifically Green Giant Arborvitae, which grow fast and tall) on this side of the property. Mostly, because we knew this day would come eventually. So when we saw the fence go up, we started to discuss whether we could move this project up the list. Before we got too far we had to check the status of the ground. If you haven’t been here since day one (hi mom!) you may not remember that the lot immediately east of the firehouse is actually deemed an alley (albeit an alley to nowhere). It’s covered with half asphalt, half grass but we had a strong assumption that the asphalt ran to the edge and was simply covered with grass. A quick poke with a long screwdriver confirmed our suspicion. There is asphalt and no hope of planting tress until we remove it.
And that – all of that – my friends, is why I need a guy with a Bobcat… And a free dumpster… And maybe a gift card to a tree farm this Christmas. Someone send this to the North Pole for me.