MOUNT VERNON — The name was unveiled for 16 upper-level downtown condominiums during a Thursday morning media tour of the ongoing construction: the Lofts of Mount Vernon.
The tour was given by Jen Odenweller, executive director of The Ariel Foundation, and Denny Taylor, project manager for Shrock Premier Custom Construction, LLC. The Lofts of Mount Vernon condos — located on the second- and third-floors of four buildings along South Main and East Gambier streets — are owned by Mount Vernon Development Company. Substantial funding for renovations of the brick buildings, as well as exterior work, has come through a grant from The Ariel Foundation.
An outdoor terrace will allow residents of the Lofts of Mount Vernon a common place to gather. This is the view from Blackberry Alley.
A sample unit floor plan, with style options and provided furniture.
Also touring the apartments, of which more than 80 percent of the framing is now complete, were representatives from Kenyon College and Mount Vernon Nazarene University. Those institutions, along with Knox Community Hospital, will utilize the condos for faculty, including visiting professors and medical personnel.
Those residing in the condos will also have access to shared common areas including a raised patio space, in addition to dedicated parking spaces from Shrock’s recently completed parking lots project.
“It’s all part of our effort to bring vibrancy downtown,” Odenweller said as the tour got underway.
Taylor noted that two of the buildings will have elevator access, and each of the three non-profit entities will have at least one fully handicap accessible unit.
The first unit was arguably one of the most appealing — its large windows with its second-story view of the corner of South Main and East Gambier streets, showing the Main Street businesses in full view and the new “dog fountain” on the other side of Main Street.
The first unit shown is reserved for Kenyon College, which will be given eight of the 16 condos. MVNU and Knox Community Hospital will have four each. Mark Kohlman, Kenyon College chief business officer, noted that most condos have two bedrooms, a combined living room/kitchen area, a full bathroom and a laundry area. Some units have just one bedroom, while the four largest condos have two as well as having lofts that are the size of another bedroom. Kohlman said the lofts are larger than they appear on the renderings.
Most of the units are in the range of 800 square feet, but they range up to 1,100 square feet. One unit, reserved for Knox Community Hospital, has a loft with a unique item resting on its floor. The large wooden wheel is quite a conversation piece as it spins.
“We think it was a hoist for raising bricks into the building,” Odenweller said.
According to Taylor, electrical and plumbing work is about 20 to 30 percent completed, which is slightly behind schedule, although framing has proceeded well. Drywall should start in three weeks, and sprinkler units are still a ways off from installation. One section of site demolition will continue for the next month to make space for new patio and storage areas. The alley behind the units can serve as a short-term loading zone and provide handicap parking.
“We want people to know their neighbors; we want them to interact,” Odenweller said.
Placement of new windows along South Main Street should begin by the end of February, with project completion set for the summer, Taylor said. Asked if there have been any obstacles related to construction, he responded, “You don’t have enough time.” The buildings before renovation were uneven in numerous respects, from their walls to their floors to their rafters, he added. But much of the brick work in the old buildings has been incorporated into the new.
Though scissors lifts will be used on sidewalks to complete window work, with the exterior of building fronts will be worked on as well, Taylor said he did not anticipate road closures as being necessary.
James Smith, MVNU vice president for university relations, said the renovation work on site has involved an amazing turn-around going back to when he and other stakeholders first visited when work was just beginning.
“The transition from then to now has just been astounding,” he said, with a quality of work that offers the university options including long-term and temporary MVNU faculty housing, and visitor/guest housing that is longer or shorter in duration depending on need.
Smith was asked how it was decided which entity — Kenyon College, MVNU and Knox Community Hospital — received which units. “We all really just sat down and decided what our needs were,” he said.
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