PRINCETON, N.J. (AP) – Want a free house?
Princeton University has one waiting, but with a catch: you have to lug it away.
The school is giving away seven now-shuttered homes _ some more than 150 years old _ it needs to demolish or move as part of a project to build a new train station and a pair of arts buildings.
Most of the homes boast charming period details including exterior scroll moulding, arched windows and brick fireplaces. But to say they’re fixer-uppers is an understatement.
The walls and floors have already been stripped to ready the homes for moving or demolition. In one, a long-forgotten coffee cup sits on a wall beam. Insulation peeks out from gaps in the wood siding on another home, a porch light hanging askew above. Debris is strewn about a peach and seafoam green floral couch in a living room. Electrical wires dangle from the roof of one home that’s missing siding, the bare wood below exposed.
They are not, Princeton spokesman Martin A. Mbugua noted, “in move-in condition.”
And if they’re not gone by April 30, the only direction they’re going is down.
That’s the deadline under plans for the $300 million Arts and Transit Project, which will also move a heavily trafficked convenience store, add parking for commuters and construct a public plaza. Opponents sued the town and university over the project earlier this month but the school said it was expecting the lawsuit and construction shouldn’t be affected.
It should come as no surprise in a state with some of the highest home prices in the nation that there has been intense interest in getting a free home. Mbugua said the university has received more than 400 calls and emails from people intrigued by the idea of a complimentary home.
The inquiries have come from as far away as Haiti, Mbugua said.
“It’s really an opportunity for people who would like to preserve the houses or use them elsewhere,” he said.
While the house might be on the house, moving it is quite an expensive proposition: tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Kendal Siegrist of Wolfe Housing and Building Movers said the houses will have to be taken apart to move because that area of Princeton is densely populated.
Siegrist said the houses can’t be carted away whole because there are too many utility lines in the area. Lines can cost up to $10,000 each to move, he said.
“Unless you have a strong desire to live in a historic building,” Siegrist said, “I don’t think it’s going to be cheaper to disassemble and reassemble than it would be to build a new house.”
Siegrist said his Bernville, Pa., company has received a number of calls from people interested in moving the homes to lots as far away as Mississippi and California.
“At the point when you have it dismantled and you have a couple of trucks, you can take it anywhere,” he said.
Stephen O’Neill, a freshman who lives in a dorm across the street from the houses, said he’s interested to see how the houses will be moved.
“It’s good if someone wants a nice old house that has charm,” he said.
But Zafar Gill, who was walking nearby with a friend, is skeptical about the idea of moving a home.
“Even in my house, when I have some mattresses to get rid of, it’s a problem,” he said. “So I don’t know how they’re going to take that away,” he said, gesturing at one of the star-crossed houses.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- Skin Cancer in Arizona: Stats, facts and new immunotherapy drugs making strides
- Distracted walking injuries end up not so funny
- Scary situations: 5 quick tips before you let a contractor in your home
- Four ways telemedicine is changing the health care industry
- 5 mistakes homeowners make in the spring
- Three rivers run through it: Exploring Arizona's waterways
- Smart home basics: things you need to know to get started
- 5 Surprising things causing back pain
- Arizona agriculture is a $17.1B industry
- Timeline: Arizona's roots in brewing history
- 5 reasons to love the D-backs this season
- Tips for taking your home entertainment experience to the backyard
- Tech-related injuries your parents never experienced
- Workers comp: Signs your co-worker could be a fraud
- Who's the real founder of America's pastime?
- Epidemic rising? What you need to know about Alzheimer's in Arizona
- 5 unforgettable Wooden Award winners
- Family and hard work are keys to success of modern dairy farmers
- Genetic testing could hold answers for colon cancer survival
- Cold beers and baseball: A beer lover's guide to Spring Training
- Telecommuting: 5 tips to make it work for employers and employees
- See how top CFOs feel about economic growth in the Valley
- Migraine myths that keep patients from effective treatments
- Here’s why Gaydos went tankless with his water heater
- Bocce ball and basketball: How you can help Arizona's Special Olympics athletes
- Tips on building the best wine room in Arizona
- Avoid the nightmare: 6 tips to choose a great contractor
- Breast cancer: Improved testing and treatments means more survivors
- Failed back surgery: New hope for patients living in pain
- Ticking time bombs: Telltale signs your water heater is about to explode