The Tiny Blue House?
Question Corner: January 2019
by Tim Athan
From the January, 2019 issue
Q. The tiny blue house at 717 W. Liberty has been vacant for many decades. What's the story?
A. City Directory records indicate that the house has been unoccupied since 1988. There is evidence that it dates to 1864, and it's in the Old West Side Historic District.
It is owned by Michael Bielby, who also owns 713 W. Liberty next door. He was successful in refurbishing 713, but his plans for 717 were denied by the city's historic district commission in 2014.
Commissioners objected to the addition that Bielby proposed, which would have increased the building's footprint by 200 percent. In a Next-door thread, Bielby responded that renovation without expansion was not economically viable: "… the 2nd floor does not provide anywhere near minimum ceiling height requirements. It would essentially be a small studio at best with hundreds of thousands of dollars to restore and extensive, probably physically impossible changes to conform with minimal health/safety building codes." The house will remain vacant as long as the impasse continues.
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[Originally published in January, 2019.]
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