Many Bay View condos still home to original owners
Gazing out the window of one of the first-floor units in the Bay View Condominiums simply takes your breath away.
“The view from down here is even better than from some of the other [higher] units,” said Bay View Condominium Association President Heidi Moon. The higher you go, she says, the more you miss out on because the windows are higher.
Moon, affectionately known as one of the “originals,” enjoys her view of Jamestown’s coastline from her couch. She has seen every unit and is one of 13 people who have owned one of the Bay View Condominiums since they were auctioned 20 years ago in October 1989.
Moon has lived in her waterfront condo full time since retiring from her post as an English, German and Spanish teacher in the Lincoln School district in 1992. She has dedicated herself to the preservation of the building and immersed herself in Jamestown’s community.
The building hasn’t changed much over the years, but Moon said the owners have diversified a bit.
Back in 1989, buyers were primarily couples looking for a second home, investment property or a place for a weekend getaway. Now, she said, more younger couples own units and there are more year-round residents.
Of the original owners, most still use their condo unit as a weekend or summer getaway, Moon said.
“We all show up in the good weather, and many of us come back for the holidays, too,” she said.
The Bay View Condominium project was originally a “$7.5 million faux pas,” according to the Providence Journal back in 1989 – a project that developer Ronald Jobin expected to make him rich, quick.
Jobin partnered with LJD Inc. and bought the old 104-room Bay View Hotel for $825,000 in the mid-1980s, according to Providence Journal archives. But by the time the condo project was completed in 1988, the market had gone soft. In the first year, only four of 36 units sold, inspiring the auction that left bidders with a great deal – and Jobin and LJD Inc. with a great loss, according to the newspaper.
According to Moon’s records, when the Bay View Condominiums were completed in 1988, the projected value of the sixth-floor penthouse – complete with a private entrance, circular living room, wet bar, a stunning panoramic vista of Jamestown Harbor and almost double the square footage of any of the other units – was $525,000, still a deal by today’s standards.
But the penthouse sold at auction for just $325,000.
According to 2009 tax records, the penthouse is valued today at $852,400.
Moon said her unit was also a “steal” at just under $180,000 at auction. At the time, it backed up into the Bay View Bar and Grill, a restaurant the town required to be included in the project’s construction. But it never really took off and now exists as the thirty-sixth residential unit.
Moon credited her savings on the purchase to the failed restaurant.
“People used to complain of food smells inside their units,” she said. “And my back stairs used to pass right by the [restaurant’s] storage unit.”
At the time, she said, it was a minor annoyance to be welcomed by potato peelings as she entered her home. Today, Moon’s home is valued at $627,420, according to 2009 tax records.
Moon’s first Jamestown experience came in 1963 when her future husband, Dr. Alfred Moon, took her home to his parents in Newport.
“The first thing we did was hop on the ferry to Jamestown,” she said. Adding that the old Bay View Hotel took up the space now occupied by the condos, but the waterfront still looks the same.
“Back when they built it [the Bay View Condominiums], the town required it to look like the old hotel,” she said. The footprint of the condo building is quite a bit larger, but all the towers and tresses give the two structures a similar aesthetic appeal.
Moon said her condo unit has come a long way from the concrete floored dwelling she purchased at auction.
“Only the kitchens were done,” she said. “Most of us have replaced those, too.”
Moon added an extra window to take full advantage of her harbor views, traded her old fireplace for a marble hearth, knocked a chunk out of the kitchen wall so she can see the bay while cooking dinner and covered the concrete with plush white carpets.
Moon has served two terms as the condo association’s president and recently took over again for someone unable to fulfill the duties. Now, she’s working on a beautification process that includes landscaping and revamping some of the entranceways. She said she expects the project to take a few years to finish.
She has also seen the dues, based solely on the unit’s square footage, triple in her time.
But, she said, that’s comparable to paying upkeep for living in a private home and she wouldn’t trade her lovely water views for the world.
“Some people complain the dues are too expensive,” she said. “And those are the people who sell. Me, I’ll only sell if I really can’t afford it anymore.”