Call it "Extreme Makeover -- History Edition."
The Design Review Commission Wednesday approved exterior site conditions of a historic home in central Merced that needed improvements recommended by the city planning department.
"It's (one of the) most historically sensitive restorations we've ever done," Joshua Ewen, redevelopment technician, said.
Two years ago, the city's redevelopment agency adopted the Residential Facade Improvement Grant program, which helps homeowners to restore residential properties around town and increases affordable housing of historic homes. The program focuses on "midtown" from 18th Street to 27th Street and from G Street to Martin Luther King Jr. Way.
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"What we have been trying to do is target homes which are historically sensitive and in need of repair and upkeep," he said. Commission members work with property owners on roofing, paint, stucco, landscaping -- all exterior improvements.
Exterior improvements help form an immediate impression for someone entering a neighborhood, he said.
At the meeting, the home located at 101 W. 20th St. was slated for exterior improvements, such as replacing the porch, replacement of columns, fencing, paint and landscaping. The home was built in the 1900s and Kim Dolina, 51, bought the house last month.
"I'm just going to keep it original," she said. Dolina, who has always loved older homes, said she would keep the columns, give the house a new paint job and "I would just love to have it look jazzy but still keep it original."
The house, with a stucco covered chimney, is on a corner lot and a single-family residence. It's a 1,427- square-foot structure on a 7,500-square-foot lot, according to Dolina.
She bought the property at a short sale, saying "the misfortune of another family kind of letting it go was really my fortune."
"If it wasn't for the grant, it [the grant] was my incentive to take on such an older home," Dolina said. "I'm really excited to live in this neighborhood."
And the property also has ties to local history.
Walter H. Killam, publisher and editor of the Merced Morning Star, lived there in 1924, Ewen said. "This would have been obviously a pretty nice home in the area in the early 1920s," Ewen explained.
The program application allows for a one-time reimbursement of the actual improvement expenses of up to $18,000 per property. After that ceiling, the homeowner is responsible for 100 percent of all the costs in excess of the maximum grant amount. Dolina had an estimate of about $17,888 from a contractor based in Chowchilla, according to the report.
Ewen said the planning department will take comments from the commission about aesthetic improvements to the redevelopment advisory committee. That body will have the ultimate say in approving the funding at a meeting later on this month.
Ewen said they've spent about $108,000 worth of grant money within the past nine months for four total properties. But if multifamily units, such as apartment complexes, are included, the number goes up to 18 total dwelling units, he said.
Within the next year, Ewen said they still have about $120,000 remaining in grant money to work on five or six more projects.
So Mercedians can look forward to more beautification of historic homes.
Reporter Ameera Butt can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or email@example.com.