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Creation of the Condominiums

July 20, 2009

 by John Richter – Crawford Street

A story from my experience here on Crawford Street. This story concerns my experience with the creation of the condominiums.

Jan 1979: On New Year’s Day, we moved into our new home on Crawford Street. With two small children, ages 6 and 2, I was anxious to get out of my apartment and into a house of my own. I was a bit naive back then and didn’t realize Ellwanger and Barry Condominiumswhat problems were in store for me as a result of living next to a school that had just closed. I now realize why the former owners, the McAllisters, had sold it. My first year initially seemed very quiet compared to Berkeley Street, but the problems soon began. Abandoned schools quickly attract kids, who like to loiter and vandalize, and there was plenty of that. Worst of all, there was a basketball hoop in the parking lot that attracted all-night parties, complete with loud music from portable boom-boxes. Even on Saturday mornings, we’d awake to the sound of thump, thump, brawang, as the ball bounced off the backboard. All the neighbors adjacent to the parking lot were on edge from all this constant commotion. There was no relief from this. The picture below shows our proximity to the parking lot.

At this time there were proposals circulating concerning the fate of the closed school. One concerned turning the school into a strip mall. This involved tearing down the kindergarten building, now Joan’s house, and extending the parking lot with egress onto Crawford Street. The other proposal was to turn the school into condominiums. There were several town meetings where these proposals were thoroughly discussed. I was dead-set against living next to a parking lot, so I advocated for the condos, although, surprisingly, there was a lot of opposition to it. Fortunately for me, the condo proposal prevailed and Lowell Colvin, a local developer, was hired to do the renovations. We knew of him from other projects in the East Ave. area and knew he had a reputation for high-end quality projects.

Meanwhile, back at the parking lot, the parties were continuing, even on weekdays. One day, as I was walking the kids back to my house, a beer bottle that had been blindly thrown over the fence, just missed us. My fuse was lit, and I chased the kids away, at least temporarily. They rode by my house a few days later, yelling obsenities at me. The battle was on! Police were called many times to break up the late-night gatherings.

The construction workers, who were working on the condo renovation, also got into the act of playing basketball during lunch hours. One day, when Lowell Colvin visited the site during lunch hour and caught his men playing ball, he immediately got out a cutting torch and cut down the basketball hoop, ending all of the misery that the neighbors had endured the past year. The silence was deafening! At last, the neighbors could smile again.

This was the single-most important event that happened in the 30 years that I’ve lived here. The condominium project was a huge success for the neighborhood. The condo units initially sold for $100K, when the homes in the area were going for $50K, so the values in the neighborhood soared. Best of all, the architectural nature of the school was preserved and peace and tranquility prevailed.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. kelly permalink
    November 3, 2011 8:22 pm

    I have been looking all over the net for current info on the condos at Crawford and meigs. Any suggestions on how to find out more?

    Kelly

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