Want to buy a U. building? That’ll be $10, thank you

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Correction appended.

The University is selling two historic houses on Angell Street for $10 each, though the buyers will have to relocate the houses.

The houses, 127 and 129 Angell St., stand on the site of the planned Mind Brain Behavior Building, for which the University could break ground as early as next summer, The Herald reported in August.

Administrators are still “investigating other possibilities” for the Urban Environmental Lab, which also occupies land where the Mind Brain Behavior building is to be situated. Initially, the lab was also advertised for sale, said Michael McCormick, assistant vice president for planning, design and construction.

The Greek Revival-style houses were built in 1849 and 1853 and are “contributing structures to the historic district of College Hill,” McCormick said. Administrators want to “preserve the historic integrity” of the neighborhood as it expands, so they’ve opted not to demolish the houses, he added.

The University will contribute up to $1 million total to defray the costs of moving them.

The final cost of moving will be “very dependent on the route the move will have to take,” he said.

The houses will be separated from utilities and their foundations, lifted onto wheels and moved using hydraulic jacks, he said. The University used a similar process to move the Peter Green House half a block in 2007, at an expense of about $500,000, he said.

McCormick has already heard from “over 50 interested parties” since the proposal was first advertised Saturday, including some on the East Side, some elsewhere in Rhode Island and even some out of state, he said.

Though 129 Angell St. is narrow enough to fit on most East Side streets, moving 127 Angell St. might require some sidewalks to be cleared of trees and utility poles, he said, adding that the difficulty of clearing the route would play a large role in deciding on a route and location. The houses are tall enough that they could hit wires or trees, he added, further complicating the move.

The buildings have been used in recent years for graduate and medical student housing, though they are currently vacant in anticipation of their move.

An article in Thursday’s Herald (“Want to buy a U. building? That’ll be $10, thank you,” Oct. 23) stated that the University will provide $1 million each towards defraying the costs of transporting of 127 and 129 Angell Street. The University plans to provide $1 million total in moving costs.

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