Before: 19th Century $1-building; Now: luxury house/pizzeria

In 1850, Cincinnati was the second densest city in the country, but in the last century as residents began their flight to the suburbs neighborhoods lost population and in some spots buildings were abandoned.

Walnut Hills was once considered Cincinnati’s second downtown, but in the last century the area fell on hard times. When the historic firehouse burnt down in 1977, it was left to crumble for over 3 decades. A couple years ago developer Kent Hardman bought the building from the city for $1.

Hardman spent heavily to bring the building back to life- it’s now his loft apartment upstairs and a pizzeria downstairs- and he says he’ll only “break even” with his investment, but he’s more interested in helping turn the entire neighborhood around. He invested in the building next door and vacant buildings across the street and hopes that traffic to the pizza parlor will bring some life back to these blocks.

Johnny Sanphillippo of filmed this story. On his blog, he writes about shoestring pre-vitalization: “a new generation is now beginning to rediscover neighborhoods like Walnut Hills and the city of Cincinnati understands that market demand is aligned with the existing building stock and historic urban fabric. ”

Original story:

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Teen converts bus into off-grid $5600 photovoltaic tiny home

Nineteen-year-old Jonathan Von Reusner was a sophomore going to college in his hometown and living at home. Looking for an affordable way to move out, he decided to buy a bus and build himself a tiny dorm on wheels.

He paid $2500 for a bus he found on craigslist. Then he began to home-ify it: he stripped the seats, added a hardwood floor, a futon couch/bed, a desk, a kitchen (small fridge, water cooler, gas stove) and photovoltaics. The final cost (including PV) was $5600. It doesn’t have toilet or shower facilities, but as a college student, he has free access to all that at the campus gym.

His school, Bard College (2 hours north of New York City), lets him park the bus on campus, but he can’t live in it. Wanting something more permanent, Von Reusner is now camping out- with permission- in the parking lot of the local Buddhist monastery. Since he plans on many more years as a student (he hopes to go to medical school after his final two years of college), he expects to be living in his converted bus home for many years to come.

* Video filmed by Bard film student Elisa Caffrey.

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Converted garage as income-earning small home in exurban LA

When Chris Aune bought his home in Palmdale, California, he was looking for a place for just himself and his dogs so he didn’t need all 1400 square feet. He also didn’t need a “home for his car” so he converted his garage into his home.

He now rents the original home for more than the cost of his mortgage and figures he can pay off his home in 4 or 5 years. Meanwhile, he parks in the driveway and lives comfortably in the 575-square-foot ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit- AKA backyard cottage, granny flat, in-law unit).

* Filmed by Johnny Sanphillippo — more of his stories about urbanism, adaptation & resilience:

Original story:

via Uploads by Kirsten Dirksen