Interview with Tom Sorrano (Continued)

• What’s different or special about your restorations?

We seek to find the best balance of restoration and remodeling within the budget we have for each home. We retain and repair the original architectural features where possible, replace missing features when feasible, and then enhance the home for modern living by upgrading the kitchens and baths, adding lighting and more closet space, and finding creative uses for awkward nooks and crannies of the home. 

We ‘ve also adopted the model used on Miller’s Hill, where homebuyers have an opportunity to reserve a home prior to restoration and then work with us to customize the restoration to meet their personal needs.

A significant part of the value of these homes lies in their historical place in our city. Every one of these homes has a history within the neighborhood and there are many fascinating stories that come out of the old city records about the original families that lived in them.

We take the time to research the first years of each home and compile the story of these first families for the future homeowners. This helps our future residents appreciate the community tapestry they have chosen to become a part of.

• You’re restoring homes on the upper blocks of Marshall and Day Avenues - an area that hasn’t seen as many restorations as other parts of the neighborhood. Why?

The decision to focus our restoration on the upper blocks of Marshall and Day Avenues was a thoughtful one. We already had a vested interest in this section of the neighborhood with the two properties we already owned. We knew the neighborhood had incredible potential given the right resources.

Marshall and 10th street was the upper NW corner of the Old Southwest historic district, so it made sense that this area needed to be improved to be a solid anchor and distinct entry point for the rest of Old Southwest. The Miller’s Hill project anchored the other end of the neighborhood and established a known maximum market price for homes on these blocks. 

We had two natural neighborhood boundaries, Campbell Ave on the north, and Elm Ave on the south, which defined our target neighborhood as “Marshall & Day”, encompassing two parks, the Fork in the City, Jefferson Center, Kirk Family YMCA, the 5th St Laundromat, and the Cotton Mill as amenities within our borders and greenway access in Wasena and on 13th Street.

Other independent investors had successfully restored and sold homes on these blocks in the neighborhood over the previous 5 years, but these were done without a focused effort. With some more focus on completing the anchoring of both ends of the neighborhood and working toward the middle, we were sure some dramatic improvements could be made in a relatively short period of time.

• Many of the fine old historic homes in the neighborhood were divided into apartments over the years and many remain in that condition today. What made the Soranno Group focus on restoring houses back to their original use - as single-family homes - rather than providing rentals as some others have done?

Although we continue to manage single family rentals while the housing market improves, our core goal is to provide restored and improved homes to homeowners. The pool of potential buyers is larger and the financial numbers make more sense in terms of re-sale value for a single family home. 

Old Southwest homes are over 100 years old and, with the historic exterior requirements, they cost more to repair and maintain than a comparable, vinyl sided duplexes outside of the district. This is not to say that we need to eliminate all of the duplexed homes in the neighborhood. In fact, the overall goal is to support and encourage the existing and future landlords to maintain a stock of quality affordable and market rate units in the neighborhood at a ratio that encourages a healthy balance between renters and homeowners. 

We want to foster a neighborhood that renters want to move into because of the quality of the units, the neighbors, and amenities, not because it’s the cheapest place to rent or they can’t get approved to rent somewhere else.

• How long do you plan to continue with restorations in Old Southwest? Do you feel like you’ll expand to restorations of houses on other streets in the future?

As long as there are viable restoration opportunities in Old Southwest, we’ll continue to do restorations.

• What do kinds of changes do you foresee happening in Old Southwest in the next 10 years?

We see a potentially positive and exciting future for Old Southwest in the next decade. 

Just in the few years that we’ve been actively working in Old Southwest we can see plans and initiatives that the city put in place years ago finally coming to fruition as improvements are being made to downtown and to our parks and greenways, resulting in an influx of community conscious professionals that are making the downtown neighborhoods their home. We receive inquiries from up and coming residents from Grandin and Wasena that express interest in moving across the river to Old Southwest if they could find the right home.

We look forward to the continued development of the village centers, as the right economic mix that these restorations encourage becomes available to support them.

• How can people learn more about your projects?

More information about the projects we’re working on can be found on our website – www.thesorannogroup.com

Anyone interested in taking part in our projects as an investor or partner can contact me directly at tom@thesorannogroup.com or by phone at 540-923-0321.