As owners of Keil’s Antiques & Gifts on Main Street, Jason Buss and Dan Hamilton have a knack for living history. Now, they are pursuing the once-dilapidated properties at 907 W. ‘C’ St. in Belleville.
“I’ve been in the antique business for a long time and I’ve also always loved real estate,” Buss said. “So, when it comes to fixing up old homes, which I consider to be a big antique, I love it; I simply love these kinds of projects.”
Since Buss and Hamilton purchased and began renovations at the old Cedar Terrace Apartments and the two additional buildings on the property, it’s been more than just a labor of love.
“For starters, the neighborhood started unofficially responding to the changes going on here,” said Hamilton.
He noted that once the overgrowth was removed from the property in the summer, neighbors started to notice and would stop by to extend their gratitude about the renovations and clean up that was underway.
“I’ve had folks come up and actually thank me for reinvesting here, not to mention the neighbors driving by and waving or giving a thumbs up,” Buss said. “Perhaps most important, I’ve seen a bit of a change in how some homes are being kept. Neighbors are cleaning up their properties more, elevating the way their neighborhood looks and taking pride in the awesome homes that are in this part of the city.”
The Cedar Terrace Apartments, an eight-unit building, was built as the Humboldt School circa 1880 along with a duplex on the same lot. Additionally, a single-family home also sits on the property, which was built in 1858. The property is half a block from the historic Voss Place Neighborhood and sits in the middle of the West Belleville Historic District, perched in the center of the neighborhood as a major focal point.
The school was converted into an apartment building in the middle of the 20th Century. Since sitting vacant for several years, the apartment building has undergone a complete renovation including HVAC and electric updates, structural renovations to the basement, new appliances, and other cosmetic updates.
Beyond their passion for maintaining and celebrating the history of aged items, Buss and Hamilton see this renovation as more than just a construction project or business venture. For them, it’s about supporting the creativity, culture, and community in the City of Belleville.
“It’s important to us to keep the historic integrity of the buildings, while providing tenants with modern amenities,” said Buss. “Bringing these hold homes back to life is something that is important to us and to the City of Belleville. We’ll continue to salvage these gems so that we can lift up our community and enhance what it means to live and work in Belleville.”
“I believe in this,” said Hamilton. “I believe in investing in my community. This is my home and as a resident, I feel like it’s my responsibility to be a good steward of the history of our city, but in a way that makes it accessible to the coming generations. Reinvesting in a neighborhood like this is a great way to do that.”
The couple intends to complete renovations by the summer of 2020 and is happy to announce that the new name of the apartments will be the Humboldt School Apartments, a nod to the living history prevalent in Belleville today.
“We’re proud to be here,” said Hamilton. “The city has been great to work with, and the mayor even came to see the progress of our work. We are a proactive and energized city, and I am proud to be part of it.”
To learn more about leasing options at the homes and apartments at 907 W. ‘C’ Street, contact Yellow Brick Realty and Management at (618) 398-2400. To learn more about investing or reinvesting in the City of Belleville, visit www.belleville.net.
PHOTO: Dan Hamilton, left, and Jason Buss, right, are renovating the old Cedar Terrace Apartments in Belleville’s Brewery District neighborhood, along with two other homes on the property, all of which were built in the mid-to-late 1800s.