Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Steelman Wants to End City Earnings Tax

If you haven't ever lived in the city, chances are that you don't know about the City earnings tax. If you reside in the city limits, you are taxed 1% of your what you make over the year - just for living in the city.

It's really rather ridiculous. It's almost a punishment for choosing to live in the city. While you can argue that you don't have to pay for trash service, and other particulars that county residents do indeed pay for, it still seems silly to me.

The problem with getting rid of the tax? The fact that it generates $140 million in revenue every year. That's a big chunk of budget gone if it is revoked.

Missouri Treasurer Sarah Steelman wants to rid the city of the tax.

I agree with her. The city is competing with the county for residents - and why move into a loft when you can live in Clayton, Webster, or Kirkwood and not have to pay 1% of your earnings every year.

However, I do think that if you are going to revoke the earnings tax, you also have to have a solution for replacing that $140 million.

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Greenrrroof Animal Homes

Stephanie Rubin’s Sustainable Pet Designs creates these awesome green-roofed quarters for dogs, cats, and birds from FSC-certified woods and vegetation native to the city you live in. Super cool idea, but a bit on the pricey side....

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Amigo's Cantina in Kirkwood Now Open

Amigo's Cantina has finally opened in Kirkwood. It's on Jefferson, right next door to Mike Duffy's, and across the street from PJ's Tavern. The space is absolutely phenomenal, as it actually feels like an authentic Mexican cantina. The margaritas are superb (and I am not a huge fan of Margaritas). The place is sure to be crazy busy most nights, with it being the only Mexican restaurant in Kirkwood.

For Rent: Frank Sinatra's Twin Palms Estate

Sure, it's not Saint Louis, but I couldn't resist posting when I ran across this. Frank Sinatra's estate is For Rent for a cool $2,600 per night.

Designed in 1947 by Stewart Williams for Frank Sinatra and his first wife, Nancy Barbato, Twin Palms is a spectacular example of mid-century contemporary architecture in the heart of Palm Springs’ Movie Colony community. Features include exquisite period furnishings and infamous piano-shaped swimming pool. Located just around the corner from residences once owned by Al Jolson, Jack Benny and Cary Grant, this vacation rental estate boasts both luxury and historical significance.

-Four bedrooms each with private bath
-Fourth Bedroom also doubles as a Media Room with twin day-beds and a private bath
-Pool house with bar, kitchenette, and his and her bathrooms
-Sinatra’s original state-of-the-art sound system still in place, although not connected for use
-Massive sliding glass doors open onto expansive patio, incorporating cabana and piano-shaped swimming pool
-Furnishings exact to the period, including pieces designed by Knoll, Vladimir Kagan, T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings, and Paul Laszlo spread throughout the estate among important works of art, pottery, and textiles

While I am sure it would be quite the treat to stay there, if I had $2,600 a night to blow, I am sure I could think of a lot of other things to spend that money on!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Stunning Home Remodeled From Top to Bottom

I have a new listing coming on the market in a few days, and it's very near and dear to my heart. It's a house that my partner and I have remodeled from top to bottom, and it turned out absolutely pristine, if I do say so myself. It's located in the heart of Saint Louis Hills, and offers a wealth of amenities. Not a room in the house was untouched.

When we purchased the house, the outside was a mess. There was no rhyme or reason to the landscaping, and a beautiful Japanese Maple had to be sacrificed because whoever planted it planted it too close to the house, as well as directly in the center - which ruined the curb appeal as you couldn't see the front of the house. The house also sported a randomly colored blue awning, which was horrendous in appearance.

We completely overhauled the front, adding two beautiful grasses on either side of the porch, along with stone pavers that gave the landscaped area a nice definition. A new Japanese Maple was added towards the far right side, and a varieated liriopie was added as you walk down the sidewalk. Fresh red mulch gave the front of the house some good color and matched the yellow-ish brick well. Heading inside, we started in the living room. The hardwoods were a mess, there was ample plaster that was cracked, and the paint was quite bland. Ugly, gold fireplace doors adorned the woodburning unit, along with dated maroon tile surrounding it. The trim - while natural, was a complete a mess with scratches all over every inch. The stairs leading upstairs were covered in filthy carpet.

We ripped out the carpet and refinished the stairs, as well as adding fresh white paint to brighten up the staircase, and room. The gold doors were removed and a fresh coat of paint was added to the fireplace, along with new marble on the surround. New blinds were added, and the hardwood floors were refinished. All of the trim was painted white as well.

The kitchen was probably the worst room in the house. Dated appliances, wallpaper, and a terrible layout were the staples. A pantry that wasn't being utilized and wasn't even able to open fully because of the stove placement was a clear waste of space. The location of the electrical outlets left the refrigerator cord dangling in plain sight. All in all, it was a complete trainwreck.

The kitchen was completely gutted to the studs. All new electrical was ran, with the placement making more sense, and grounded outlets being added. The pantry was ripped out, and all of the hardwood floors were refinished. Custom maple cabinets were added, to go along with granite countertops and a granite backsplash. A picture window was added to give the kitchen more of an open feeling, and Stainless appliances finished the space off.
Off the kitchen is the dining room, which had a lot of cracks in the plaster, and an extremely old light fixture. Off the dining room was what they were calling a "mud room." It was a complete waste of space, and was basically a pass through to the door that led out to a decayed wood deck (so decayed that I fell through it). Nice french doors led out to the room, but the doors had multiple window panes that were broken, as well as ugly drapes.

We repaired all of the cracks, painted the room along with the trim, and added a new light fixture. The doors were spruced up, and where the mud room was, became a full bathroom with custom slate tile. The doors out to the back were moved to a smaller door off the side, and a brand new deck was added.

As we went upstairs, we were greeted with a bumble bee bathroom - old tile that was yellow and black. You might recognize it from a previous post. There were many cracks, and the bathtub was in bad shape. Old fixtures and a ceramic tile floor just added to the extremely dated space.

We reglazed the tile on the walls, as well as the bathtub, as they don't make bathtubs like they used to - solid cast iron. We put new fixtures in, and finished the bathroom off with a beautiful marble floor. As we went from bedroom to bedroom, each had its own problems. The front bedroom had dated window coverings, nasty carpet, and an extremely old light fixture.

The windows got fresh faux wood blinds, along with fresh paint on all of the trims. The carpet was torn out, and the floors refinished. The walls got a nice new coat of neutral colored paint. The changes brightened up the room drastically.

The smaller back bedroom had most of the same issues - dated window coverings and light fixture, along with nasty carpet and a border that had to go.

We put the same faux wood blinds in, along with refinishing the floors, and giving everything a fresh coat of paint. The master bedroom was similar to the other two in that it had old window coverings and a fan that was inoperable. There was a huge section of carpet that looked like it had had glue spilled all over it. Off the master bedroom was an empty room that was apparently being used as a closet. The space wasn't being utilized at all. A beautiful french door led to the area.

We transformed the master bedroom into a master suite - which is extremely uncommon in Saint Louis Hills because of the size of homes, and the age. The floors were refinished, and new window dressings added. Where the "closet" was, became a full bathroom, with gorgeous slate tile, a stunning corner shower, and a beautiful granite vanity.

Last, but not least - the basement. Boy oh you walked down the basement before, it was as if you were entering a dungeon. It was a real nightmare. There was a "bathroom" that was absolutely disgusting and atrocious, as well as being in violation of code in numerous areas.

We framed out the basement, added lighting and electrical outlets, put a brand new basement door in, and added a half bathroom adorned with marble tile. We created a separate laundry area, and the floors were covered in a beautiful carpet. The space created turned out absolutely amazing. It's the perfect spot for a family room, or for that unruly teenager that wants his freedom.
This absolutely beautiful home is being offered at $314,900. If you, or anyone you know, might be interested, be sure to give me a ring!