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Ripon eyes two houses for renovation, preservation
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RIPON – To say that the properties at 233 and 223 Second Street were distinct would be an understatement.

The towering house that sits in front of the property – which appears to have been constructed in phases with multiple entrances – at one time housed the Ripon Phone Company.

And the adjoining lot that seamlessly flows into the original house stands out amidst some of Ripon’s most distinct homes with a brick and mortar construction that features an actual bank vault door that was apparently constructed in San Francisco and was linked at one time to a Stockton bank.

But Councilmen Garry Krebbs and Charlie Gay would like to see the properties – which are apparently in escrow at the current moment – preserved and renovated as a form of low cost housing that would not only fill a need in the city, but preserve the image and the unique charm that the property brought to the quaint, tree-lined neighborhood.

“To say that there are a lot of hurdles to jump over would be an understatement,” Krebbs said about moving forward with any concrete plans. “It would have to become available, and even we’d have to send in our experts to determine whether it would even be possible  to check for termite damage and rot and things like that.

“But I think it is a building that has a lot of character, and this is something that I’d really like to see happen if it’s at all possible.”

The actual conversation over the properties came during the meeting of the Ripon Redevelopment Committee – which is eligible to use certain funds available for maintaining and construction of low-cost housing – and included the neighboring vacant lot that is still on the market and available for sale.

Acquiring all three of the parcels and merging them into one, Krebbs said, could allow for the construction of as many as eight different family units in a townhouse-style complex that would be modeled after the existing building to blend in with the neighborhood.

Gay stressed the fact that while some of the homes in the neighborhood that have been constructed in recent years seem to blend in with the adjacent properties and even accentuate the charm of the area, others that follow the bland cookie-cutter style detract from the overall appearance.

Taking charge of the property if it were to become available, he said, would allow for the preservation of not only the walls of the existing house – if possible – but the charm that makes downtown Ripon what it is today.

The commission voted 5-0 to allow staff to further investigate the possibility of purchasing the property and determine what condition the house is in and whether it would be possible to split the unique parcels into adjoining townhouse lots.