75 Haywood Street
In early 1998, structural problems in the Vanderbilt facade threatened the viability of this apartment building for low-income elderly. The brick exterior was coming loose from the steel core and stresses from weather and time made it probable that bricks would pop from the nine-story building and potentially cause serious injury. A plan to solve the structural problems was engineered and cost to complete estimated at $2.3 million dollars. Public Interest Projects, Inc. was initially contacted to provide some grant funding, but a review of the building’s financials caused serious concern that the debt load would create hardship for the Vanderbilt. PIP also felt that for $2.3 million you should also be able to get an aesthetically improved facade. Working with Jerry Stockbridge, who worked on the team that moved the Cape Hatteras lighthouse, and local architects from Samsel Architects, the structural concerns were addressed and substantial improvements to the facade were made for $1.7 million.
Working with the Board and management of the Vanderbilt, the facade was repaired and renovated and 134 units of housing for low-income elderly were preserved and improved.
During the planning process, PIP suggested the Vanderbilt look at opportunities for creating income producing retail or office space in street level spaces not suitable for residential use. The Vanderbilt now has two small storefront spaces on Haywood Street providing revenue for maintenance and improvements for residents. PIP is also paying rent – having renovated basement space that had been empty and unused for decades. The space was formerly the coal bin for the hotel, but with a lot of imagination and the skills of artist – designer Douglas Madaras, the space was transformed, and now houses the offices of Public Interest Projects and Urban3.
PIP President, Pat ‘never throw anything away’ Whalen, was particularly pleased to find uses for the old doors that had been removed from the Asheville Hotel – they were turned into desks and partitions, and bookshelves along one wall are made from old elevator rails taken from the Old Penney’s during the renovation.