Saturday, September 15, 2007

Teardowns in Raleigh

New homes on teardown sites are often bigger
Construction in established areas has residents abuzz
SARAH LINDENFELD HALL, Staff Writer | News & Observer, Raleigh

RALEIGH - Since January 2002, 588 homes have been built on land where a single-family home or duplex was torn down, according to a city report released Friday.

The report is the first phase of the city's analysis of teardowns, the trend of razing older homes and building new, often larger, ones. ...

The first report on teardowns in Raleigh was released by the Planning Department this week. This story in the N&O, and one yesterday, point to the issues we facing, and ways to approach it.

Preservation North Carolina had a summer intern to document the teardowns in Raleigh and research how other communities have dealt with this issue. This report was submitted to the planning department.

In today's story, the preservation POV goes like this:
The group found that other communities use tools to limit height, lot coverage and building mass, or require design reviews for certain kinds of houses in existing neighborhoods. "It confirms, in essence, what we all thought was going on," said Myrick Howard, president of Preservation North Carolina, of both reports. "It's an issue of whether there is the political will to deal with it. There are plenty of tools to strike moderation."

And the developer side:
Jim Baker, a developer and former Planning Commission chairman, said the city just needs to be careful as it looks at any new regulations. Baker said much of the teardown activity is happening because, right now, the city's regulations make it easier to raze an old home and build a new one, rather than chopping up a larger vacant lot and building several homes.

Fallonia has an additional observation. What Jim Baker refers to, "the city's regulations make it easier to raze an old home and build a new one" is also true about renovations. In older neighborhoods, the foot print of the home can only be exceeded by a certain percentage without a trip to the board of adjustment. But tear the thing down and you get to go to the zoning for your restrictions (setbacks).

As long as it is easier and more profitable to scrape and flip the older properties, Raleigh will continue to be in the top 5 of such development trends.

Be sure to visit HERE to see the graphic of teardown activity in the city.

Also, tune in to Headline Saturday on WRAL-TV 5 at 7:30 tonight for a discussion starring the key players in the story above.

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