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Request for Remodeling Ideas (& some answers)

I got the following request for info from a resident.  Following it is my response and some photos of what we’ve done.  I’ll be happy to post any other answers people want to share!

I’ve lived at Canal Place One for almost 3 years.  I’ve fixed and upgraded several things so far.  I am thinking of my next project.

When I was looking, I remember seeing some pictures of some upgrades people had done to their apartments.  Specifically to the kitchen.  I saw an arch way to the kitchen and then over by the refrigerator another arch way to the living/dining area.  I was wondering if anyone would be willing to share some dimensions on that and if there were any challenges to moving any of the electric on the wall between the kitchen and the living/dining area.

Another thing I was looking at recently is the upstairs hall to the bedrooms (don’t ask me why I started thinking about this).  If you notice, there is a box out of the column in the hallway and the box out juts out into the hall.  Eventually, I want to get new carpeting for upstairs so I am planning ahead.  If I could capture some more space up there, then I might be willing to mess with this AND I would rather look at a nice column as opposed to the box out.  I noticed that there is nothing in that box out except the column.  If you get a flash light and look in there, in my case the column is still painted but I’m sure it would be an easy thing to strip that paint off.  The next thing I was wondering was why is it that they brought the wall all the way out to the edge of the beam?  Again, I think this is wasted space.  Has anyone ever reworked this area?  Thanks.
My answer:
We didn’t just open up that hallway wall, we opened up the one in the loft too.
The wall in the hallway was fairly straightforward and not only gained us generous floor to ceiling bookcases but actually widened the hallway by an inch at the same time.  The loft wall was trickier and the shelves had to work around ductwork and plumbing (at the left of the photo above you can see the gap where the ductwork forces a break in the shelving).  I believe the original contractor simply boxed everything in to keep costs down; boxing was faster and cheaper than making detailed use of the space and it saved him from stripping the paint and graffiti off the columns. I’ve also been told that the bottom floors of the building have metal columns rather than the prettier wood ones.
When we redid the kitchen, we didn’t open up the wall to the living room but we did add a stained glass window (BTW, any time you open a wall, I believe Lowell requires a permit).  Our contractor didn’t have any trouble shifting the wiring to the side to allow for the opening.  If you were opening the whole wall you’d have to actually move the thermostat rather than just the wiring.
 kitchen window1
To anyone considering remodeling: Please do make sure you get any needed permissions from the Association and permits from the city before any major remodeling.  Check with Cathy if you’re not sure.  While it may sound intrusive, it’s actually for everyone’s protection—and so we don’t have any do-it-yourself catastrophes that damage property and drive up insurance!

Another Local Shopping Weekend

Just a reminder that Western Ave Studios will hold another holiday shopping weekend from noon to 5:00 on Saturday and Sunday, plus a special evening on Thursday from 5:00 to 9:00.

And Mill #5 will have their OtherWhere Market from 12:00 to 6:30 on Saturday, complete with a harpist for some mood music!  We attended their bazaar last week and found quite a lively crowd and lots of interesting goods.  We even managed to get some shopping done for some of the tougher people on our gift list!

Christmas Trees

Just wanted to let people know that, while I personally enjoy the smell of balsam in the front elevator, and I don’t think there was an official notice from the management on the subject this year, the usual rule is that Christmas trees should be wrapped when being carried through the building and that they should go in the back freight elevator only.  We always cart ours in and out wrapped in an old sheet so that no one is stuck cleaning up a trail of needles.

For newcomers to our building: Following the holidays, Lowell has various Christmas tree drop-off sites and there’s a local Boy Scout troop that will pick up your used tree in return for a donation.  I’ll post more about those options as we get nearer to take-down-tree time instead of put-up-tree time.

Shopping Local

No new news about the building has reached me this week, but if you like the idea of shopping locally and supporting Lowell’s creative side, there are two excellent opportunities today.

Western Ave Studios is open for holiday shopping today and tomorrow from noon to 5 pm. With 245 studios, there’s a little something for everyone.

A newcomer to the scene, Mill #5 on Jackson Street, is easy walking distance from us and has Totally Bazaar II today from noon to 6:00 in addition to their regular stores. They also have a Farm Market from 10:00 to 2:30 on most Sundays, including tomorrow.  And next Saturday is an Other Where Market slanted toward Fantasy, Steampunk, and Sci Fi.  At least some of these events even have live music!  And there’s a stunning, little Art Deco theatre in the complex.

(Incidentally, I’m using Facebook links here since I find the Mill #5 website to be over-ambitious and clunky to use—FB seems more helpful.  The link below is to a Boston Globe article from last year.)

For those unfamiliar with Mill #5, which may be most, they’re located on the 4th floor of one of the old Appleton Mills on the far side of Jackson Street, #250.  They are an up and coming project, kind of artist-studios-meets-mini-mall-meets-Victorian-street, that will probably have a much better shot if they get some better signage and the bridge connecting the Visitor’s Center lot with Appleton Mills gets built. In the meantime, they’re well worth a look-see but the entrance isn’t obvious.  One needs to walk into what looks like a little alley/parking area just to the right of the Cotton House Lofts entrance vestibule and head for the left, rear corner of the parking area where there’s an elevator tucked away.  Oh, and if you’re into imagining what the mills around here looked like in their heyday, Mill #5 has a general store set up in what looks to be virtually unaltered mill offices, complete with tin ceilings, built-in glass front bookcases and more.

Today’s Parade and other updates

A reminder that several downtown streets will be closing for the parade mid-afternoon today.

After my scrambling the other day trying to keep up with snow emergency information, I’d like to clarify that the Association does NOT reimburse any parking expenses incurred by parking in the city garages. And, while the city may declare a snow emergency hours before they institute a parking ban, the Association would like people to move their cars ASAP after the emergency is declared and NOT wait until the ban goes into effect.  (I’m rather glad I got “stuck” with a space in the city garage from the get-go and don’t have to worry about keeping all of this straight—well, at least, I didn’t until I started managing the bulletin board!)

I just updated the Contact page; apparently the Saturday morning office hours had changed back to their former, later time frame and I hadn’t noticed.  I hope no one was inconvenienced by the oversight.

I’ve also updated the Links page and added in a couple of new links.  The City of Lowell is planning to stop responding to See-Cick-Fix requests in January and switch over to their own system of Citizen Requests so I’ve added that in.  There’s also a new link for a pdf of the combined masonry reports.

One more update….

It appears I was right the first time (thank you, Brian). Parking at the Leo Roy is free from this afternoon through the weekend. Info here. 

I have also requested info from Royal Management to clarify the situation regarding timing and reimbursement for future snowstorms.

Sorry about the confusion! Hope no one is getting annoyed at the excessive bulletins these past two days.

Snow Emergency Correction

Here’s the link for the snow emergency notice.  It does NOT say anything about free parking at the Leo Roy Garage for city residents, despite what I’d been led to believe from the automated phone call just received. I think that Canal Place residents can get reimbursed for any parking charges during a snow emergency but I’d have to verify that.

If anyone knows just what the policy is and wants to comment, that would be appreciated!

Snow Emergency Declared

A snow emergency has been declared.  Parking on city streets is banned after 4:00 this afternoon.  I’m not clear if parking on the surface lot is banned as of now or as of 4:00 but I recommend erring on the safe side and moving your car now.

The snow emergency is to last “until further notice.”  There is free parking in the city garages for Lowell residents from 4:00 until 2 hours after the ban is lifted; then there will be a charge.

For a link to the Canal Place policy on snow emergencies, see the previous post.

Masonry Reports and Snow Emergencies

Back again! It’s been a busy day for the Bulletin Board.

Should the next forty-eight hours go as predicted weather-wise, Lowell will probably be declaring a snow emergency. Once that happens, all vehicles must immediately be removed from the surface lot to allow for plowing—or they risk being towed.  The Association does NOT contact individual owners asking them to move their cars.  Snow emergency announcements usually appear on local weather or news channels; they are officially issued by the Lowell Police Department.

The official building snow storm parking policy can be found here.

There is a new masonry report available here.

Keep in mind that there will be road closures and parking bans on Saturday for the Festival of Lights Parade.  A list of closures can be found near the bottom of the list of events here.

More About H2O

I’ve been asked about dishwashers, water heaters and the like.  I’m not an expert, but basically, the sludge is drawn into any pipes that you use before the system manages to properly flush itself.

If you ran your hot water this morning, then there’s probably sludge in your tank.  It will either run through or settle out eventually, but if you’re concerned, you’ll need to consult a professional about possibly draining and cleaning it.  It’s pretty normal to have some degree of build up in the water heater but this may have caused more than normal.

As for dishwashers, I’d recommend running your kitchen faucet until it runs clear.  If it looks like there was a fair amount of dirt in your kitchen pipes, you may want to run the dishwasher empty once through and then clean the filters before running a load of dishes.

I’m only speaking from personal experience; for more info, you can explore online resources or check with Cathy at Royal Management.