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10th/Union building going down, then back up, brick by brick

In an effort to preserve it, this Pike/Pine building is being taken apart -- brick by brick (Image: CHS)

In an effort to preserve it, this Pike/Pine building is being taken apart — brick by brick (Image: CHS)

photo (16)The end goal hasn’t changed for the redevelopment of the Davis & Hoffman building, but the most complicated preservation project in Pike/Pine just got more complicated.

After recent structural testing inside the 1020 E Union building, project developer Alliance Realty Partners discovered the brick’s mortar was much weaker than they had expected. A spokesperson for Alliance tells CHS the plan is now to remove every brick, ship it off site for cleaning, and reassemble the building facade using fresh mortar and as many of the original bricks as possible.

“We don’t know how much brick will be savable,” Alliance rep Jeanne Muir said. “Our best guess is 80%.”

The auto-row era building, along with four other preserved structures, is being redeveloped into Broadstone Capitol Hill — a project that includes 250 residential units and more than 12,000 square feet of commercial space. The Ankrom Moisan-designed project will climb seven stories in the two main portions of the new buildings.

IMG_1375On Friday, as the first day of the Capitol Hill Block Party rumbled nearby, construction workers began painstakingly disassembling each brick on the 1915-built, two-story E Union building. Developers had long struggled with the city and a neighborhood preservation group to agree on a plan to preserve the building.

Muir said the original brick mortar was crumbling throughout the building, causing sand to pile up behind the walls. She said the de/re-bricking would not significantly extend the project deadline.

The developers will not have to go back through a design review process as the building design has not changed. “It might look a little less funky,” Muir said.

The future Broadstone Capitol Hill

The future Broadstone Capitol Hill

Muir said this is the first time Alliance has ever managed a project that included reassembling a brick facade. It may be the first auto-row era building to undergo such a process for preservation.

“The goal is to repair it for the next 100 years,” she said. “This does not change our commitment to the neighborhood.”

Last year developers presented a plan that would have replaced the building at 10th and Union with a seven-story brick structure as part of the mixed-use apartment project. The plans were eventually changed, in-part thanks to the efforts of the Pike/Pine Urban Neighborhood Coalition, as well as several urban design review meetings, including one 3-hour marathon session last June.

Alliance is using zoning incentives that allows developers to build bigger if they preserve certain structures. There are four character structures currently preserved in the Pike/Pine project. Initially, Alliance did not plan to save all the structures, leading to a drawn out design review process. Alliance eventually made a compromise to save the building. The episode was the catalyst for a new set of proposed preservation incentives being rolled out this summer by council members Tom Rasmussen and Sally Clark.

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9 thoughts on “10th/Union building going down, then back up, brick by brick

  1. This is actually pretty par-for-the-course for a lot of buildings built in the 1920-1930 timeframe. Mortar doesn’t last forever, and bricks are stronger now than they used then. I just entirely replaced the chimney of my 1925 house for the same reason. Mortar was all crumbling most of the bricks not worth saving because too many were split and crumbling. Saving 80% here actually sounds pretty good. There are lots of options for new bricks now that look distressed and aged, and they build them better now.

  2. Kudos to the developer for deciding to rehab all the brick facades!….that must be very expensive for them, and they could easily have decided to do some ugly “modern” material instead. They seem to be sincerely committed to historic preservation on this project.

    • the “modern” material is actually not ugly. There is a big demand for new materials brick that looks old, and there are many products addressing the market. It’s integrated into projects that incorporate as many bricks as can be salvaged from old buildings. A lot of bricks from that era totally crumble and can’t be re-used.

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