Thursday, December 4, 2014

In which we eagerly anticipate our new tenant.

We, along with a lot of Belfast folks, are eagerly anticipating the opening of our new tenant, a wood fired pizza company.  Thats right, you heard it hear first...or maybe second, or possibly third.  I have been accosted on the street by people who have heard rumors about the new restaurant going into the lower level.  When ex-Mayor, Mike Hurley called out to us on the street the other day to tell us that his people came from a small village about 10 minutes from where one of our new tenants grew up, you know the word is out on the street.  So, we welcome Alex, a master pizza chef trained to make pizza in the traditional Neapolitan manner, and his lovely partner, Clementina, who will be responsible for the front of the house.

To that end, Clementina told us how she wanted to finish the floor in the new space.  Greg and I spent weeks agonizing over what to put down on the concrete to make the space look lovely and useable as a gallery or office space.  If you are long time readers, you will remember our 88 boxes of flooring.  Clementina and Alex wanted to keep the floor simple and so chose to paint the floor a gorgeous blue color.  Funnily enough, our favorite paint guy came to measure the space and see what we needed in terms of paint and thought 3 maybe 4 gallons would do the is a photo of Greg on the fifth gallon.

And the space after the second coat and six and a half gallons of paint later.  Greg and I decided that the floor needed a third coat.  Note how the floor reflects the light from the windows.  There are no lights on in the space in this photo.

The addition you see below will house the pizza oven, a 2 ton, three part oven that is being shipped from Italy in the next few weeks.  

One of the lovely things about the blue floor is how the color changes with light.  Below is a photo of the floor after the 8th gallon of paint.  When the lights are off, the color is a deep, gorgeous blue.  With the lights on, the color of the floor turns a soft lilac color that softens up the space.  

Brava, Clementina, I cannot wait to see the rest of your buildout plans come to fruition.  

Hopefully, the restaurant will open in mid-January.  The buildout starts today.  Greg and I are off to Kansas, but back in time to see the oven installed.  

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

In which we go way back....and I thank people for helping us with history.

Since starting this project almost two years ago now, I have been excited to occasionally get some historical information from people about the building.  Some have gone so far as to send me photos they find, others have filled in the blanks with newspaper articles or bits of anecdotal information. Recently a Three Tides friend passed me a couple of photos of the Ocean House.  The first one below was a photo that we already had and that has been the basis for our renovation of the Ocean House.  But Dave, who gave us the photo, found a much better copy than we had previously had  The building details are clear, and I can even read the signs posted outside the front door!  Dave works in the archives at the Penobscot Marine Museum, whose collection includes thousands of glass plate negatives of buildings and events in the surrounding towns. 
Anyway, as I said, the photo below is what we used as the basis for the renovation.  Some people have asked me why the front of the building is not clapboarded like the sides of the building and that is because we found the original facade underneath a later set of clapboards.  We knew they were original because we strained our eyes for a couple of days at the grainy copy we had of the photo below.  The porch is based on the photo below, as is the restoration of the center door on the second floor and all the large windows on the first floor. 

What we didn't have until a few weeks ago was this photo, showing all the details of the trim, the door, the windows on the first floor, etc.  I always thought the front window frames on the first floor were somewhat original, but that appears to be untrue.  Here the windows are taller and narrower with mullions in between the glass panes. In the photo above, one can see that more of the front facade shows under the windows and the trim makes a bit more sense than it does today. What I find interesting is how low the porch is in these photos, but then I saw that there are two steps on the porch to get into the front door..a detail we were not able to see in our grainy photo. Today, the porch is higher on the building to accommodate our handicapped ramp. One can step onto the porch or walk up the ramp and walk right in the front door.  
Greg's comment was:  Too bad the "Ocean House" sign is so ugly!  One day soon, there will be another Ocean House sign on the building, but it probably won't look like this one.

Dave also sent me this clipping, which I had had from Megan Pinette of the Belfast Historical Society as well.  Apparently work on the now absent barn started on August 30, 1917.  I still lament that we had to take the barn down, but it was about to fall over...just like the Ocean House!

What I love about this photo, which I believe came from a paper in the 1920s is the addition to the first floor on the Federal Street side of the building.  It must have been a stage office or something.  You will note that by this time the door on the second floor was filled in (and this is exactly the way we found it, with the clapboard covering over the opening, but leaving the frame.) and that the first floor front windows have been replaced with what we currently have.  As I said, I thought these windows were original, but perhaps they were replaced when work started on the barn.  The porch had been replaced with a roll out awning....which I sometimes think would have been a much cheaper solution than putting the porch back on...but c'est la vie, non?  I also note that the front windows were lowered, and less facade showed at that time.  I think you might be able to see that the front doors were flush with the facade before being retrofitted in the 70s or thereabouts.  

I can't rightly remember, but either Megan sent me the photo below or someone posted it on facebook.  From the car out front, this could be a photo dating from the late 70s or early 80s, probably around the time the property changed hands from Herb Staples to the next owner, from whom we purchased the property.  You can see that by now, the front door has been recessed.  You might remember my discussion of this from an earlier post where we found that the original front doors had simply been propped open and made into the recessed walls in 1960.  Also note that the asphalt shingling was put over the second floor door and the second floor windows replaced.  I just noticed the bundle of rail road ties in the foreground, used to make planters in the front of the building.....planters which were still there when we bought the place.
 Boy, it was a sorry looking place then...and hardly anything else was done to it for 30 years more!

A photo of Herb Staples that I pulled off Facebook.  Herb owned the Ocean House for decades, his family lived on the second floor and he operated a machine shop and a motorcycle repair shop in the back lot (so told me by Al from EBS who sold me the windows and doors for the building.  He worked there as a teenager)  You can see the barn in the background.

aaaaand the obligatory picture of us in about the same place 30 years later.  

October 2012 right before we bought the place.  The asphalt shingling on the front of the building was replaced with clapboard and painted red...covering up and protecting the original facade.  

If you have been reading this blog faithfully, you know the rest of the story so far!

If anyone has or knows of interior photos of the Ocean House from years past, I would love to know about them!!  Thank you to everyone who has regaled us with stories or passed us photos in a bar (you know who you are) or just emailed me with tidbits....keep it coming!

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

In which a lease is finally signed for the lower level!

Yesterday was a momentous occasion.  We finally signed a lease with our tenants for the lower level space!  In coming to know our tenants more, it was evident that we both want the same things for the lower level, and have some of the same design aesthetics.  Whether it was a good move or not, we all agreed to have our lawyers work on a lease that we would both be comfortable with in the end.  That was almost five weeks ago!  Yesterday, both parties were fed up and we decided to just go with the last version of the lease rather than wait for the lawyers to dicker more.  Then the lawyers came back to say..yes, you can all sign. 
We have a new restaurant space in town now!  The proprietors want to be open as soon as they can, which I hope means that they will be open for "New Years by the Bay."  The build out is extensive and very cool.  Greg and I are really excited!

Welcome to the Ocean House, Alex and Clementina!  We can't wait to have you in the space.

This is the Federal Street Facade, and the restaurant will go in on the red level.  

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

In which I dig heat pumps

It is starting to get colder here in Maine, the nights have seen temps dip into the high 20s and we have already had two snowfalls.  The first, around Halloween, took out our power for five days.  

We have three heat pump units installed in the apartment so far...the ones just on the first floor.  I set them up and left them on to see how well they would heat all 2400 square feet and they performed very well. The whole apartment is now a consistent temperature.  Granted, winter has not really arrived, but I wanted to make sure that we could handle just having three units working just in case the heating guys didn't get the rest of the units up and running...we have the units, the heating guys are just taking their time....

We have two units running in the open space of the first floor of the apartment, one in the living room and one in the hall, just under the stairs.  There is a third, smaller unit in the first floor bedroom, but I haven't turned that one on yet.  

I have reports from the first floor tenants that their unit works beautifully and they are so far happy with it.  Lisa turns hers down to about 50 at night and she says it doesn't take much time for it to get going in the mornings. The heating guys installed Daikin systems that have the ability to heat and cool as well as dehumidify.  The units are very quiet both inside and outside.  

This is the unit that pretty much heats the upstairs.  I am satisfied with the tightness of the building...I can be upstairs in the apartment and never hear what is going on outside because of the insulation in the walls.  3" of corbond on the inside and 1.5" thick blue board on the exterior.  

the smaller bedroom unit

The outside row of compressors which are quiet.  The unit under the window is the cooling unit for the commercial flower cooler on the first floor of the building.  Now that sucker is loud!  One more compressor and three more units on the upper floor need to be installed to complete the work.

Monday, October 27, 2014

In which I continue to tell you way more about my floor than you wanted to know.

FLASH:  Marden's in Waterville took all 80 boxes of flooring back without question, had four guys there to unload it for us, and just continued to wow us with customer service.  How cool was that?  

So, the laminate is gone and yesterday I started in on the lower level space by moving seven heat pump heaters, eight big drywall sections, our pile of scrap lumber, and anything else that wasn't nailed down up to the apartment to store there.  I was able to move everything but the two compressors, which weigh several hundred pounds it seems.

Time to spot clean the floor.  Between not sealing the floor when we had the chance (it hadn't cured enough by then though), me painting the place, the sprinkler guys coming in with their grease, and then me painting again, there are some spots to get rid of before the cleaning can begin.  

I am carefully erasing all the paint drips with OOPS and with a bit of elbow grease, the stuff gets the latex paint right out.  The dry stuff is covering a grease stain left by the spray foam guy.  I am trying to suck out the grease with this cleaner.  If that doesn't work, I am going for the dry Oxy-clean from Ocean State.

I have been doing this and trying to set up an overseas auction bid for Wednesday morning. What's with everything coming up overseas all of a sudden?  This is my second international auction bid in the last month.

          After a few more hours tomorrow on my hand and knees scrubbing spots out, I'll be ready to for vacuuming, then a quick mop and dry before starting in on the acid etching cleaning method.  Finally, we'll be able to seal the floor, hopefully by Thursday or Friday of this week.  Our potential tenants like the natural color of the floor and so want us to clear seal it...fine with me...I like the color too.  

 The compressors that I couldn't move....we'll get them out before we finish the floor

There is nice light in here right now.

The floor is swept, but still filthy.  I am bringing in the big gun vacuum tomorrow.  A good mopping will do this floor wonders again. But look how big the space is here...nice  I hardly notice the sprinkler pipes anymore.

The floor should be good and clean by tomorrow night. fingers crossed.  

Saturday, October 18, 2014

In which we have extra flooring....

Greg and I researched what would be the right flooring for the lower level that would work for most any business we wanted to put in, office, etc.  In the beginning of July, we found a nice laminate flooring that would work well for wasn't hardwood, so it would work in a daylight lower level space, it wasn't carpet, which might get musty on a concrete floor over time, and it wasn't an expensive tile, which would've broken the bank at the time. We went ahead and bought 1500 square feet....80 boxes of the stuff.  The flooring manager was skeptical that we had let the cement cure enough to put a floor over it.  "Ideally, you want at least six months before putting a floor down over a new concrete slab."  The moisture content of the concrete was supposed to register in the somewhere around 4-6% and we had four months since the pour and a moisture reading of 18%. We would chance it.

Well, here it is, October 18th and this is what the laminate flooring looks like today:
Yep, we never got the chance to put it down because of the mess up with the sprinkler company and their using the lower level as a workspace and then us getting busy with other things. 
So here we are, seven months after pouring the slab, dunno what the moisture content is, but probably closer to what we would need to put this flooring down.  
Our new potential tenants for the lower level want to leave the concrete floor as is and just seal it with a clear coat....the same treatment we thought about doing from the start, but cast aside because we thought a gallery or an office space would want something "wood like" and slick.  

We love that the potential new tenants are embracing the "industrial chic" look that Greg and I bandied about when we were building the space.

But, that leaves us with 1500 square feet of flooring.  We thought about moving it upstairs to use in bedrooms and such, but we really have other plans in our minds for those spaces.  We thought of taking it back, but thought we would offer it locally first.  The flooring is beautiful and durable and looks like mahogany planking. 

It has a foam backing and is a snap and click floating floor, so even I can install it! 

It even comes with the rolls of plastic underlayment needed for installation, and you can see that the boxes still have their plastic wrap on, never been opened.

So, if you have a need for a lot of good quality laminate flooring and you are near Belfast, hit us up!

UPDATE:  Incredibly, Marden's took the flooring back lock stock and barrel and gave us full price for it.  They have such excellent customer service.  We love Mardens!

Am leaving for a week on a road trip with my mom.  Updates on what is happening at the Ocean House will resume upon my return.  Suffice it to say that if the potential tenants decide that the space is right for will all LOVE us!!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

In which we have a new parking lot

Three days of digging, filling, grading, stoning, and then mulching has gotten us a much improved back lot. The next rain will wash the peastone and we will have a lovely, simple back lot without hot top, something that neither Greg nor I wanted to do.  There is enough asphalt in the world!  We missed the planting season, so the whole lot still looks a bit barren, but we plan to move a lot of the hydrangea we have here at our house (we have three enormous patches of it!) to the berm that Dan made at the back of the lot, this will do a lot to screen the graffiti-laden tractor trailers that reside on the next lot over from our customers and tenants.  

Remember when? 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

In which we start on the back lot

Dan Waldron and his merry band of men started working on the back lot to make it more parking friendly.  We finally got rid of the last dumpster and the port-o-potty, which will probably upset "the regulars."  Anyway, there was still the matter of what to do with the giant granite boulders that were dug up from in front of the building.  You can see below how large they actually are.  Somehow, someway, we are going to make them into natural benches for next summer's food truck onslaught in the back forty.  

Our plan is to have food trucks in the far corner of the lot away from the building,.  The trees make a lovely shady spot to have lunch.  The grassy hill across from it will accommodate the sun worshipers.

The parking area for the building.  Note the conduit that Dan placed yesterday. We are putting in lamp posts to light the back at night.

With just digging a trench for the conduit, Dan dug up some old intact bottles, including an old amber bottle of "Dazzle" a late 1940s detergent.

Dan also took home about 800 lbs of old car parts. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

In which it is a rainy Sunday in October at The Ocean House

Fall has been spectacular in Maine this year.  This is perhaps the first time in three weeks that we have had a rainy night and early morning like we just did.  The leaves are gorgeous and just at their most wonderful.  Fall is my favorite season and since Greg and I missed summer altogether, I decided to slow down and enjoy the nice weather and calm streets before winter projects set in.

Lots of boats have been hauled.  We still hold out hope for some lovely days like today to go boating.

Our thoughts are turning soon to the apartment, which is the next phase after we finish the lower level.  I have to paint the walls and the pipes here before doing anything else, besides get a bathroom or two in place! 

Oh, and a kitchen built too!

The sprinkler pipes in the apartment have left the whole thing kind of quirky.

We have had a few interested parties in the lower level space.  I am loathe to show it because it really isn't finished and I think people might not see the potential it has.  I've spent part of every day putting on four coats of white linen paint on the darn sprinkler pipes and about the same time filling the holes left by the sprinkler company.  I think the pipes finally fit in.  

The lovely hole in the my brand new walls left by an errant try at getting the pipe out of the building!

Lisa and Jasmine have been moving in for the last several weeks, and the place looks great.  There appears to be a constant stream of people going in the door!

I love the weathervanes in the window...some of you may know of my penchant for weathervanes, and in fact, if you click here, you can hear the audio podcast of my noontime art talk on American weathervanes at the Colby Museum last year.

The ole' girl glows now with all the attention!

We have lawn! 

and some beautiful fall color. 

Stay tuned for photos and commentary on the back lot, which gets graded, gets parking spaced. and prettied up this week...fingers crossed.