A couple of weeks ago, Lee Campbell and his daughter, Amy, bought a house for $100.
But that’s just the beginning of the story.
By the time the Campbells are done, they’ll have spent more than $150,000 moving a 1922-era, Craftsman-style home across Interstate 90 to a new daylight-basement foundation near Ninth Avenue and Chronicle Street.
In the process, they’ll help preserve a piece of the East Central Neighborhood’s history. And following their successful move, the Washington State Department of Transportation will reimburse up to $50,000 of their expenses.
As WSDOT acquires property for the North Spokane Corridor, it is required to meet certain federal guidelines governing historic preservation. The National Historic Preservation Act says that projects using federal funds have to consider the impact on historic structures. A survey of historic homes in the East Central Neighborhood revealed 12 homes that would be eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. One, however, was severely water damaged.
Through an agreement with the state Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation and the Federal Highway Administration, WSDOT said it would put the 11 homes up for auction at prices beginning at $10. It also promises to reimburse the buyers up to $50,000 for relocation fees if the buyer moves the home to a lot within a half-mile of the East Central Neighborhood boundaries. The neighborhood runs roughly from Division to Havana streets and from Trent Avenue south to around 14th Avenue.
“What this does is preserves the historic aspect of the neighborhood, recycles the housing and provides affordable housing,” said Al Gilson, a WSDOT spokesman.
However, WSDOT must first have the state or federal dollars to acquire the homes at fair market value. The first home, which the Campbells bought in a Jan. 9 auction, was purchased by WSDOT for $114,000 last year. The remaining homes are on East Second, East Third, and on Pittsburg Street and Sprague Avenue, according to the city’s historic preservation office. However, neither that office nor WSDOT wanted to reveal the exact addresses because those homes are not “slated to be purchased at this time,” Gilson said. Negotiations to purchase those homes cannot occur, he said, until money is available to buy them. It’s not clear when that will be, he said.
WSDOT also will contribute $40,000 to a fund administered by the city to promote historic preservation efforts in the East Central neighborhood as part of the agreement. If any of the homes are not purchased for relocation, WSDOT will contribute $15,000 per home to that original $40,000 fund, the agreement says.
Campbell, who owns a construction company and has moved many homes, said it’s fortunate he was planning a subdivision of new duplexes nearby. He plans to move his daughter’s new house to one of the lots on that land, he said.
He has an interest in historic preservation and his daughter has been searching for an old home to buy and fix up. A woman whose family owned the home from 1922 to 1989 came to the auction, Amy Campbell said, and plans to share her original photographs and documents about the home’s beginnings.
“I’d like to restore it to what it was originally,” said Amy Campbell, 26.
“The outside is really the worst part of it. The kitchen was just remodeled and the molding is just beautiful.”