ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – In a video with more than 3 million views, Kaleb Higgins outlines his plans to restore a long-vacant Victorian mansion in North St. Louis.
“It was built in 1889 by Charles S. Brown,” said Higgins.
The house is located on St. Louis in the St. Louis Place along a stretch of street that was once known as Millionaires Row. Many large and stately houses still exist, some intact, others dilapidated.
That’s the condition in which Higgins found his home when he bought it for $65,000 in 2020.
“There are a lot of structural problems, a lot of twists in the background. We have some walls in the back that are starting to crumble,” he said.
Over a year involved in the project and he has stabilized the structure and is working with the long term goal of restoring it to its original beauty. A process that he documents on his YouTube channel, The 2nd Empire strikes back. It refers to the unique architectural style found in areas of St. Louis.
The building was empty for more than a decade after the foreclosure. It’s one of more than 10,000 homes across the city that sparks debate: tear down or save.
“Everybody wants to demolish, that’s the easiest thing to imagine. A building is a problem, let’s get rid of it. But the reality is that a lot of these assets can be leveraged, if not now, later. And we can do a lot to improve safety by stabilizing structures, keeping water out and keeping people out,” said Laura Ginn, location strategist at St. Louis said.
One of the funding sources to stabilize these buildings is Prop NS. It was passed by city voters in 2017. It allocates up to $6 million a year to address issues on city-owned properties, the LRA. Large items like a new roof or a lost wall, make it easier for the detoxifier to access properties.
So far the city has stabilize 50 attributes.
Currently, there are nine properties available for sale, all on the Northside of St. Louis, with prices starting at $1,000 for a number. They still need work, but Prop NS makes it a little less expensive. But the challenges are still huge.
As Higgins noticed, these buildings cost a lot of money to restore and it was difficult, if not impossible, to get a loan for them. He wants the city to make it easier for people to buy these buildings in an effort to preserve as much of our city’s history as possible.
“I hope people feel the need to preserve history like this, have the conversations to save these things,” Higgins said.
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