Here are three things that should go together, but usually don’t: Green, planet friendly design; historic preservation; and affordability.
But that’s what you get with King Park Development Corporation’s renovation of the historic Gramse Building at 22nd and Broadway streets. Built in 1915, the Gramse had seen better days. Two years ago, this Prairie-style landmark was all but abandoned, with just a single elderly tenant.
An extraordinary collaboration between King Park, a neighborhood Community Development Corporation and green development company Casa Verde has not only given the Gramse a new lease on life in the form of affordable condominiums, it has also shown how green design principles and historic preservation can work together. The Gramse is the first building in Indiana, and one of only a few in the entire country, that qualifies for LEED certification (the standard by which buildings’ positive environmental impact is judged), while also meeting standards for historic preservation, and affordability.
Eleven of the Gramse’s 13 one and two-bedroom condos are aimed at low to moderate-income buyers. The residences range in size from 600 to 1300 square feet, which feature Energy Star appliances, on-demand water heaters, nontoxic paints and other interior materials, as well as high performance heating, cooling and insulation systems. The condos are priced starting in the $70,000s and range up to $130,000.
Thanks to the leadership of King Park Executive Director Janine Betsey, the CDC has a history of being in tune with green ideas. And so the decision to work with Casa Verde made sense.
Kristen Dobbs, King Park’s Director of Housing Programs says, “The green stuff is not just trendy—it’s also more affordable. It cuts bills and reduces the amount of maintenance someone may have to do on a water heater or furnace. It can lower their bills. Affordable needs to be a continuing process. It’s not affordable if you can get in the house and monthly maintenance is a hardship.”
That the vision for its renovation includes historic preservation makes the Gramse a truly visionary project. “Working with a historic building is green from the get-go,” said Casa Verde’s project manager, David Kadlec. “I did a Google search when we started this thing and I found next to nothing when I combined low-moderate income, LEED certified and historic preservation guidelines and National Register candidate… So we are inventing the wheel here by bringing together these three mighty universes that often might think that they can’t get along.”