750 North Taylor
The 1884 W.F. Warner home in the heart of historic Kirkwood is listening to the tick-tock of the demolition clock, with hopes of a save before the alarm rings.
On the market since 2008, the price has reduced to $895,000, and a new home builder holds an option on it, pending approval of his plans to create 4 new homes on the almost-2 acres of land it has occupied for 126 years.
The Kirkwood Landmarks Commission is trying to save it, and yard sings all over Kirkwood show solidarity. But the trouble with finding a new owner who won’t tear it down is the prohibitive cost of rehabbing and updating it for 21st century living.
Even as the asking price comes down, the rough estimate of $200k for renovation would exceed the home’s value. This is according to the developer who wants to tear it down. He also believes it needs to be a gut rehab. And of course he’d think that, but it’s not necessarily accurate.
The Warner mansion qualifies for historic tax credits. Everything about it is an Old House Journal wet dream. And it feels as if Kirkwood residents are approaching the tipping point of tolerating teardowns – this is not their first rodeo.
If the ideal private residence buyer cannot be found, can other options be explored? Off the top of the head: bed and breakfast, Kirkwood history museum, tea room and meeting space…
Because of the surrounding neighborhood, I’m thinking of lower traffic, money-making ventures that would require a tweak to zoning, but would update and preserve the home to be shared with others in a way that could eventually recoup the costs. Maybe the Kirkwood Landmarks Commission could chip in to make this possible?
There can be a Plan B, C or D for this beautiful home, and since Plan A is not working, let’s hope some inspirational wheels of thought are turning in the minds of those who can make a real difference for the past, present and future of Kirkwood.