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Saba Moon and a partner buy an Ashland home for a buck

ASHLAND ' Who says you can't find a historic home in a prime location ' with a view ' in pricey Ashland for less than &

36;500,000?

Saba Moon and a partner found one for a buck and bought the land ' a fifth of an acre in a prime location near downtown ' for &

36;89,000. Moon used to be a renter in the home.

Trouble was, a couple of blocks separated the parcel and the 100-year-old house. And the house needed to go to make room for a new development.

The home now lives at 493 N. Main St., moved from its former site on Grant Street to the north. Renovation is under way, and the owners are putting in plenty of sweat equity, said contractor Jere Isaac, who placed the structure on a foundation and is finishing other basic work.

It's one of the few homes in recent years to qualify under the city's affordable housing criteria, which waives system development charges. The program saved Moon almost &

36;6,000 in city fees.

According to a city-sponsored affordable housing study conducted last year, Ashland is in danger of losing its economic diversity as residents get squeezed out of a spiraling housing market. Programs like the one Moon benefited from are intended to ease that crunch.

I'm excited for them to take advantage of (the housing program) and save a house at the same time and save a lot that wasn't in the most aesthetic condition, said city planner Mark Knox, liaison to the historic commission. The house's new location used to sport a gas station.

A medical office and 24 housing units are under development by Chuck Butler at the Grant Street parcel. Butler sold the house to Moon for &

36;1, Isaac said. Moon did not return phone calls seeking details about her purchase or renovation costs, but county assessor's records show that she bought the lot for &

36;89,000 in July 2002.

The lot was a difficult one to do due to its placement on North Main, said Isaac. Everyone was trying to maximize the lot because of its commercial potential. It sits on a corner near commercial zones.

The house has about 830 square feet. Isaac rebuilt the bathroom and put on a new roof. The house was positioned to allow for a two-car garage with an apartment on top at a later date. The lot also fronts Coolidge Street.

A sticker in an old electrical panel bears a date of 1900. Drywall will replace lath and plaster. Moon will rewire the home.

Because the house is in a historic district, city officials want to keep the original siding. Replacement siding that matches the 4-inch-wide boards costs a hefty &

36;1.50 per linear foot. The city wanted to keep it authentic, said Isaac.

Newer windows were installed on the side facing North Main to cut down on traffic noise from the road. A fence will be installed along the front. The expansive front room windows will offer a sweeping view of hills to the east of Bear Creek.

Residents must meet income guidelines to qualify for the city's affordable housing program. City fees based on the house's square footage would have been &

36;5,898 for Moon's home. Owners must pay the waived charges if they sell to someone who doesn't qualify for the program. Approximately 40 of 100 affordable housing units built in Ashland since the early 1990s are no longer in the program, Knox said.

More homes are being moved rather than destroyed, said Knox. Certain developers out there see the benefits or the beauty of some of these old resources and want to save them, he said.

Jere Isaac works on the siding of a historic home recently moved to the corner of Coolidge and North Main streets in Ashland. The owners found a unique way to make use of the city?s affordable housing program. Mail Tribune / Roy Musitelli - Mail Tribune Roy Musitelli