Man Buys Firehouse For $1, Completely Transforms It

January 10th, 2019

This video is a must watch for all renovation enthusiasts and bargain hunters!

There’s nothing special about a home renovation.

But when someone buys a home for the princely sum of $1 and does something amazing with the interior, then that’s impressive!

Believe it or not, this actually happened. The visionary who created this amazing space is named Johnny Sanphillippo.

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Andrew Stahkle/Cincinnati Magazine Source: Andrew Stahkle/Cincinnati Magazine

Sanphillippo was able to find a gorgeous yet outdated old firehouse in Walnut Hills, Cincinnati for, yes, just $1.

But how was Sanphillippo able to buy such an impressive building for next to nothing?

The answer lies in the history of Cincinnati and its changing population.

The brick building was built in 1850, when Cincinnati claimed to be the second densest city in America.

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Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation Source: Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation

However, in the 20th century, Cincinnati suffered from a population decline. In fact, since the 1950s, when the city had over 500,000 people, the population decreased year on year. In 2010, the population slipped to below 300,000 individuals.

This decline in the city and, ironically for an old firehouse, a devastating fire in 1977 meant that its value plummeted.

After the 1977 fire decimated the building’s interior, it stood vacant and neglected for decades.

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WLWT5 Source: WLWT5

Sanphillippo was motivated to buy the building for a number of reasons. The building is the oldest firehouse in the city of Cincinnati and is placed only 1 mile north of downtown Cincinnati.

Despite the firehouse’s condition, he saw an opportunity for the building. When he saw that he could buy it for only $1, Sanphillippo’s mind was made up.

However, the challenges in renovating the building were huge. It had no roof on its back end. A tree was growing on its second floor. So much of the building had been burnt to a crisp.

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Walnut Hills Redevelopment/Vimeo Source: Walnut Hills Redevelopment/Vimeo

But the improvements are stunning.

On the first floor is a pizza restaurant. Above this is Sanphillippo’s own apartment.

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365 Cincinnati Source: 365 Cincinnati

Some original aspects of the building still exist.

For example, in Sanphillippo’s apartment, massive beams span the ceiling, which were originally used to store hay for the horses (which pulled the trucks at first.)

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Hot Pads Source: Hot Pads

Additionally, Sanphillippo has turned the original lockers of the building into storage spaces for his apartment.

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Kirsten Dirksen/YouTube Source: Kirsten Dirksen/YouTube

Nowadays, Sanphillippo sleeps in the same room as the on-duty firemen.

Only he’s made the room much more homely than it was.

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Kirsten Dicksen/YouTube Source: Kirsten Dicksen/YouTube

Overall, the renovation of the old firehouse has been a huge success.

Within one year of buying the building, the renovation work was completed. And with the business that the pizza restaurant was bringing in, Sanphillippo had already broken even on his investment. (The investment was much more than $1, as it included renovation prices.)

And behind the firehouse was a derelict outdoors space. Sanphillippo has now transformed it into a public recreation area for the community with a modern and friendly design.

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Kirsten Dicksen Source: Kirsten Dicksen

Spurred on by his success with the firehouse, Sanphillippo purchased many more buildings in the neighborhood.

Sanphillippo is hopeful that his renovation of the old firehouse and the other buildings can serve as the catalyst for the renovation of Cincinnati.

“I want people to come to the pizza restaurant here in six months, eight months […] and say ‘wow, there is an impact, there are things happening here.” – Sanphillippo.

And it appears that his work is paying off. In 2018, Cincinnati’s population exceeded 300,000 again. It is expected to keep rising.

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Source: Kirsten Dirksen