Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Speaking of Turrets

The for-sale sign is gone on this Glenwood Avenue megamanse, which means we now have a new property value.

No longer is this property worth less than my or your property.

It is showing a land value of $453,600 for .49 acres.

The house weighs in at 7,535 SF and $1,621,633.

Total Value Assessed $2,075,233

Public records do not indicate that the house sold.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

From the Department of Obscure News

'Extreme Makeover' house faces foreclosure
Mon Jul 28, 11:32 AM PDT | The Atlanta Journal-Constitution,
LAKE CITY, Ga. More than 1,800 people showed up to help ABC's "Extreme Makeover" team demolish a family's decrepit home and replace it with a sparkling, four-bedroom mini-mansion in 2005.
Three years later, the reality TV show's most ambitious project at the time has become the latest victim of the foreclosure crisis.

After the Harper family used the two-story home as collateral for a $450,000 loan, it's set to go to auction on the steps of the Clayton County Courthouse Aug. 5. The couple did not return phone calls Monday, but told WSB-TV they received the loan for a construction business that failed.

The house was built in January 2005, after Atlanta-based Beazer Homes USA and ABC's "Extreme Makeover" demolished their old home and its faulty septic system. Within six days, construction crews and hoards of volunteers had completed work on the largest home that the television program had yet built.

The finished product was a four-bedroom house with decorative rock walls and a three-car garage that towered over ranch and split-level homes in their Clayton County neighborhood. The home's door opened into a lobby that featured four fireplaces, a solarium, a music room and a plush new office.

Materials and labor were donated for the home, which would have cost about $450,000 to build. Beazer Homes' employees and company partners also raised $250,000 in contributions for the family, including scholarships for the couple's three children and a home maintenance fund.

ABC said in a statement that it advises each family to consult a financial planner after they get their new home. "Ultimately, financial matters are personal, and we work to respect the privacy of the families," the network said.

Some of the volunteers who helped build the home were less than thrilled about the family's financial decisions.

"It's aggravating. It just makes you mad. You do that much work, and they just squander it," Lake City Mayor Willie Oswalt, who helped vault a massive beam into place in the Harper's living room, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

10 Million Dollar Teardown ?!?

Historic Greenwich Home Destroyed By New Owners
In 1886 of Boston architect designed and built this magnificent home in the exclusive Belle Haven neighborhood of Greenwich Connecticut. It was called the McCutcheon house and the last chance to see it standing has passed. Tonight it is well on the way to demolition not because of blight or damage because of wealth ...."

Video at the link above.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Wow, I'm a Land Baron

This home sold for $240,000 in late 2003, and is now valued at $1,359,365 with the new home. R-6 lots on this street are now valued at $450,000. The house is valued for $900,000 on this lot.

The City of Raleigh has mailed its property tax bills based on the new revaluations. As reported earlier, the rate is not revenue neutral as was suggested when the new property values came out.

It is an interesting cycle. As reported in the N&O this morning, it has potential of driving new market forces.

Several streets over..., Michael Rulison, who paid $17,000 for his home in 1968, said the high property values will accelerate the tearing down of homes inside the Beltline. Boosted values and higher tax bills make it harder for longtime residents to stay put. Rulison, a retiree whose ranch-style home is now valued at $346,574, says he won't move.

"This is going to gentrify the neighborhood and soon it will be filled with McMansions," Rulison said.

This resident speaks the truth; the land portion of the revals increased by 300% in many ITB neighborhoods. According to Emmett Curl, Wake County Revenue Director until June 30 of this year, these values are based on "comps." That means: what are comparable properties selling for in your neighborhood? So if there is speculation going on in your neighborhood, where properties are being bought for teardowns and new house construction, the sale price minus the cost of demolishing the house is now the land value. Similarly, the sale of million-dollar mansion up the street may raise the land value of that street. Thirdly, as land values go up, they begin to exceed the house value. So a formerly typical home on a side street in Anderson Heights might have a sweet value of $249,00, but property value of $350,000 and rising. Over time, the house depreciates and if the land appreciates, a very good house may become mismatched to the land value and begin to look inviting for a rebuild.

Since the favorite formula for speculative redevelopment of a lot is 3 x the land value, then we are quickly looking at homes that are at least double the cost of surrounding homes, and that generally happens by building houses 2-3 times the size.

Gentrification is a good word for what is happening in older neighborhoods. Suburbization is too. Soon an older neighborhood will be just another new upscale development.

See also in the N&O, The New Tax Rate and You. The comments indicate there is a campaign to blame the cost on the City / County rather than the cost to residents of real estate speculation in older neighborhoods.

Be sure to look up your property online at Wake County Real Estate site. When you click LAND, you can see what a unit of land in your neighborhood is valued at. For the first time in recent revals, that unit is not valued just as 1 Lot. So the size and build-ability of your land will be factored into that resulting number. (If you looked this up last year, all lots on your street would show the same number). You will also notice the land under a mansion nearby and the land under your home are valued the same. When that house sold, it increased the value of land on your street, and decreased the value of your home if it was older.

This is the way Raleigh of the future will be unless the residents get involved in NCOD's and appealing to the City for protection.

Makes Fallonia very sad.

If you are concerned, see the Respect4Raleigh petition above, and share. The City is watching for citizen concern.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Realtors with a Sense of Proportion

Drive to the Big, Huge House. Mine's the Little Crappy One Next Door.

A realtor's blog, the ensuing discussion among realtors is very interesting. Most found the original post a good fun read. Fallonia now remembers that some people go into real estate because they like houses.

Wow - I dont have a problem with big houses per se, but have we just completely abandoned the idea of character in our architecture?

Take a look at history and having first generation teardowns is not too uncommon. Even in places like Georgetown and Old Town, the 100-200 year old federalist/victorian houses we all see and appreciate so much are generally not the original, but second generation places after the poorly built wooden structures were demolished.

So too in these cases the 1st generation ranch homes are being torn down, but look at what is being put up in its place. Is brick on the front, vinyl on the side going to become a time honored architectural feature? Has the idea of connecting the "walkway" to the sidewalk instead of the driveway just a bygone feature of the days when neighbors would walk over and visit each other? Has the idea of building anything other than a box (no curved exterior walls) been banished forever?

I will admit, I am spoiled by living in such a wonderful place where tourists actually come to see houses like in my neighborhood. 100 years from now, will we look as fondly on the McMansion era as we do with the other eras throughout history? My gut tells me no. 02/29/2008 09:59 AM by Anonymous.

The problem with this area is that many of those houses are sitting empty and in foreclosure. As a result entire sections of the neighborhood are falling in disrepair and show signs of neglet. It is a sad site and will take years to straighten out. The older original owners are the ones that now can't sell their homes at any price that are taking the brunt of the counties lack of oversight on building these homes. 02/29/2008 12:46 PM by Pat (Realease, INC)

LENN: Thanks for your extensive comment. I agree -- the new homes sell because of the features. I was working with some new home buyers this morning. We'd looked at resales last weekend and new homes today, and the features of the new homes just appealed to them so much more, even though the neighborhoods are not yet established and they are still building and will be for a few years to come. I don't mind the mix of homes either, but until some of the smaller homes disappear, there does remain a somewhat awkward imbalance between neighbors. 03/01/2008 04:15 PM by Brian -- Northern Virginia & D.C. Real Estate (RE/MAX Allegiance)

ANONYMOUS: Thanks for your very eloquent comment. I agree with you that historians will likely not look back on the McMansion period as a time of enlightened architecture. Brick front, vinyl siding is certainly not the most attractive look.
03/01/2008 04:16 PM by Brian -- Northern Virginia & D.C. Real Estate (RE/MAX Allegiance)

BILL: You are probably right with your advice. Buying the less expensive home in a changing neighborhood can be a great investment. 03/01/2008 04:18 PM by Brian -- Northern Virginia & D.C. Real Estate (RE/MAX Allegiance)

PAT: Thanks for your comment. Foreclosures in any neighborhood certainly harm overall property values and don't make for a good market. 03/01/2008 04:20 PM by Brian -- Northern Virginia & D.C. Real Estate (RE/MAX Allegiance)

COLLEEN: I know that there are many areas of the country that are experiencing similar things in different neighborhoods. 03/01/2008 04:20 PM by Brian -- Northern Virginia & D.C. Real Estate (RE/MAX Allegiance)

Brian, There's a lot of those "McMansions" here in Long Island. Most people thinks they are an eyesore in the neighborhood. I live in a 100 years old Victorian with a front porch and love the architectural details. If McMansions is called progress, I guess we can not stop them. 03/01/2008 04:32 PM by Rosalinda, Broker-Brookville, New York Real Estate (Century 21-Laffey Associates)

ROSALINDA: Thanks for your comment and sharing your experience in Long Island. Obviously there is a demand for McMansions otherwise they would not be built. There's definitely much more interesting architecture out there. 03/01/2008 05:14 PM by Brian -- Northern Virginia & D.C. Real Estate (RE/MAX Allegiance)

I am personally with Rosalinda on this one. I live in the crappy house next door - on a large plot of land which is next door to an 8000 sq.ft. McMansion with zero style and no taste whatsoever. Someone said it looked like a tacky Italian nightmare (the guy was Italian - so he could say that.) They stuffed it onto a 0.24 acre lot and wonder why no one wants it. After 18 months on the market, they rented it. If and when I ever sell, I'm laughing all the way to the bank. Even though they made an expensive mistake, it brings up the value of my "crap" - which at least has style and charm. But then I think most new construction is garbage. 03/01/2008 08:52 PM by Ruthmarie (Keller Williams Realty)

RUTHMARIE: Thanks for your comment. I am sure that you will benefit from an increased value on your home. Can you see the sunlight from your windows anymore, or is it blocked by the neighbor's home? 03/02/2008 07:09 AM by Brian -- Northern Virginia & D.C. Real Estate (RE/MAX Allegiance) 03/02/2008 08:31 PM by Brian -- Northern Virginia & D.C. Real Estate (RE/MAX Allegiance)

Brian - the trouble is they OVER-REACHED! They can't sell the damn thing! They've been trying since 2005 in a city where almost anything sells. The area already has some very, very heavy-duty homes. There are a lot of McMansions along with some very elegant homes from the pre-war period and even the turn of the century. Mostly Colonials and Tudors (some of the Tudors are quite Gothic). I already HAD value from expensive homes surrounding me. But these homes have a reasonable amount of LAND associated with them. The value in my property is also in the land. I bought when land was cheap (1996) and it was on 0.67 acres. There are very few areas that have that much land associated with them in our densely populated area. 0.5 acres seems to be almost a built in maximum - with this area being one of the few exceptions. I didn't need this idiot cramming 8000 sq.ft. on .24 acres! And although I haven't subdivided yet, I probably could and will at some point. The shadows will be on the empty lot should I do that affecting its value - in probably the wrong direction.

Just so you understand...the side of my house faces a main road. The house itself is on a very high-end street in one of the most desirable neighborhoods in the area (if not the most desirable.) Initially, this house was the gatehouse to a very large mansion that has since been torn down. Hence its small size. They guy who built made the fatal error of constructing an enormous amount of square footage in a small space ON THE MAIN ROAD - with the bulk of the house facing the main road. It's practically sitting in the street. That house is like living in a fishbowl - you are there for all to see because the set-back is non-existent - and all the windows facing front mean you will never have any privacy. The other problem is that the home was geared for sheer mass and I suppose "tasteless" is the operative word - actually, I'm being kind. The mother of a friend of mine asked my friend whether the zoning had changed and and whether the new construction was a restaurant! Someone else suggested it had all the grace of a dentist's office! The topography allows for sane building on that road provided there is enough setback for a thing called TREES and landscaping - and perhaps some fencing. He would have made far more money with 3000-4000 sq.ft. home that was well landscaped providing a shield between the street and the home. I fenced in the back yard and allowed the maples to grow in. The result is when I'm outside in the warmer months on my deck or in the yard, the traffic does not intrude. Its almost like a clearing in the woodland. Which is why I didn't subdivide yet. 03/03/2008 12:39 PM by Ruthmarie

And the new point of the day, from the mouth of a realtor:

Hi Brian,

I built a 3100 sf home next to a 1100 sf CMU block house. Many of the homes in my neighborhood were 2 bedroom 1 bath beach cottages. I tore down a 1000 sf house, also made w/ block. We lived in the little home for 4 years but wanted to start a family. It is hard to add on to a concrete block house on a slab and end up with a nice result.

In our neighborhood you can definitely tell the built for profit homes from the built to live in ones.
03/05/2008 07:27 PM by Mark, ABR - Virginia Beach Real Estate (RE/MAX Alliance - REMAX

Is worth a peek.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Teardown of the Week

Thar she goes.

The first teardown on Glenwood Avenue in the Glenwood Brooklyn neighborhood is in process.

Two Family
Units 2
Heated Area 2,377
Story Height 1 Story
Style Conversion
Basement Full Basement
Exterior Frame
Year Blt 1925
Remod 1966

Acreage .17
Permit Date 4/23/2008
Permit # 0000074689

One of several that have been divided into rental units in this older area, a $250K purchase in 2006 would put the replacement in the $750K range. The only plan listed is for demolition at this time.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Its like a plague, it's everywhere

This posted by a fellow watcher, in New Haven.

tear downs

joninaz7/9/08 10:20 am
What would you do if your neighbors tore down their house, paved the entire front yard, and adorned the house with lions, columns, and porticos? Apparently this is an issue in NYC. Most tear-downs are the right of the owner, and municipalities can do nothing, even if it's an historic district apparently.

This got the architecture and history nerd in me thinking about how important historical preservation is, and I happened on the Nat'l Trust for Historic Preservation and their list of the 11 most endangered sites in the US, including the entire Lower East Side of Manhattan and Chicago's Michigan Avenue streetwall.

I often drive by this industrial building in suburban New Haven, built probably 1920s-1940s--I love the art-deco aesthetic, the symmetry, glass blocks and attention to detail like the curved glass and metal trim. The wrecking equipment was out in front of it the other day, I fear the worst. Probably will be replaced with a Dunkin Donuts.
Current Mood: sad

Monday, July 7, 2008

Teardown of the week (weeks ago that is)

This house on Claremont has been available for pre-sale for a pretty long time.

It has now joined the ranks of empty lots in Anderson Heights. Right now I count 5 in the immediate area. Three of them have sat a very long time.

In the golden days, that would be when this was a desirable neighborhood rather than a speculative market (say 2-3 years ago), a house like this would sell within 3 months to someone eager to move right in and improve the home. This neighborhood has sustained and grown on its own merits for the past generation or so.

The problem we have now reminds me of that trend on the highway where two lanes have to merge and some people pass the waiting line to jump in front. Are they not aware that it is them that is causing the problem they are trying to avoid? If we did not have to stop and let them in, the traffic would flow on its own. Same thing for real estate over here. The change of character over here is stunting sales for many a seller and buyer.

The return of the NCOD process took 2 years, the same 2 years that allowed Anderson and Claremont to tip to million dollar plus digs. The same 2 years that Brooks Avenue began to lose its classic character. The list can go on and on. How many unsold homes can ITB live with ... this is a new phenom.

It was not broke, and we did not need fixing. Now we are in a fix.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

A Model From Athens

How would you like to wake up and find that Oberlin Village is a protected Historic District?

It happened in Athens, GA. Could it happen here too? If the Planning Department can come up with a new category of Historic District, there could be areas of Southeast Raleigh (College Park-Idlewood for one) saved as well.

Black history victory: Reese area now protected district

In its heyday of the late 1800s through the 1960s, the neighborhood was also home to the local black middle and upper classes, including prominent businessmen, lawyers, educators, doctors, dentists and ministers.

By Blake Aued | | Story updated at 11:46 PM on Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The oldest black neighborhood in Athens now will be protected for future generations.

More than two years after a University of Georgia fraternity sparked outrage around Reese Street by buying land for a new house, the Athens-Clarke Commission designated the neighborhood a historic district late Tuesday night.

"This particular area is rich in African-American history," Commissioner George Maxwell said.

Maxwell, 70, recalled attending Reese Street Middle School, now a Masonic lodge. Two of the state's first black high schools, the Knox Institute and Athens High and Industrial School, both now demolished, were located nearby.

In its heyday of the late 1800s through the 1960s, the neighborhood was also home to the local black middle and upper classes, including prominent businessmen, lawyers, educators, doctors, dentists and ministers. Some still remain, but crime and drugs caused a decline as homeowners died or moved away. When residents and police began cleaning it up, college students started moving into new rental houses and the neighborhood gentrified.

The influx of students, specifically the Kappa Alpha fraternity, led residents to seek the historic district in 2006. New construction, tear-downs and some exterior renovations require permission from Athens-Clarke officials in historic districts, so residents will have more control over development.

"They won't have to wake up in the morning with bulldozers in their front yard," Maxwell said.

Reese Street joins nine other Athens historic districts and is the first primarily black neighborhood to gain the distinction.

In other business, the commission:

Voted unanimously to accept the donation of a new Little League baseball field at the Holland Youth Sports Complex in honor of Allen and Madison Mays, a local doctor and his son who died in a car crash last year.

Voted 9-1 to revise the county tree ordinance to set tree canopy goals for active recreation parks when approving master plans for those parks. Commissioner Carl Jordan dissented.

Published in the Athens Banner-Herald on 070308

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Architecture Matters

Of the multiple foreclosures shown on this map, three in Anderson Heights area are of the now inescapable, previously rare, river-house form.

They may look fine out near Falls Lake or facing a real waterway, but facing built-neighborhoods with small cricks in their backyards, they may look out of place. Each of them tried to cram 5000 SF on an older small central neighborhood lot for a million and up. They are not selling, perhaps this non-indigenous species will put its design back on the shelf.

Previous entries have covered them here and here and here and here and here.

Fallonia wishes not ill-will on her new neighbors, but looks for the day that consideration returns to the way things are done. Hopefully this is a sign that those market forces are going to take care of things as promised.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Glen Lennox neighborhood conservation

Glen Lennox neighborhood conservation effort moves forward

Jul 3, 2008 News

by Rich Fowler | Staff Writer | The Carrboro Citizen - Carrboro,NC

Glen Lennox area residents are one step closer to getting a Neighborhood Conservation District. At its meeting last week, the Chapel Hill Town Council allowed residents to go forward with the NCD process, which allows the planning department to hold an informational meeting for area landowners.

The NCD petition was filed soon after Grubb Properties, the owner of the Glen Lennox apartments and shopping center, announced a plan to redevelop the area into a high-density neighborhood similar to Meadowmont.

But at the council meeting, Clay Grubb, president of Grubb Properties, said he didn’t think the plan was sensitive to the history of Glen Lennox.

“I apologize,” Grubb said. “We were not prepared to submit that plan, but we felt like we had no choice at the time. That was a plan that was done hastily.”

He said he’d be happy to halt plans while all parties involved talked it over.

Grubb said he didn’t feel the NCD process was fair, because his company owns the 440 apartment units and shopping center, which make up a little more than one-third of the area.

Mary Dexter, who filed the original petition, said the proposed Glen Lennox redevelopment plan wasn’t the only reason for an NCD. “We’re working on saving a neighborhood, not just apartments,” she said. Dexter said area residents were concerned about teardowns and “McMansions” in their neighborhood.

“We have common historical values, we have common architectural values,” she said. “We are a neighborhood, and you are part of it.”

The next step is that the planning board will schedule a meeting to tell landowners how the NCD process works, what it protects and what it doesn’t protect. Notices will be sent to all landowners within a 500-foot radius of the proposed NCD before the meeting.

There are currently six NCDs in Chapel Hill, including one in Northside and the most recent one in Coker Hills.
The council took no action on a proposed moratorium on development along NC 54 east of 15-501 up to the town limits. Projects already under construction as well as those still in the application phase would not be stopped by a moratorium.
Because of the way the development process is set up, the proposed redevelopment of Glen Lennox, along with any other future proposed projects along NC 54, would still be subject to a moratorium if the council chooses to pass one when it meets again in the fall.

Michael Collins, vice chair of the planning board, said the board unanimously supported the original petition for a moratorium on NC 54. “The applications seem to be coming fast and furious,” he said. Collins said that perhaps it was a good time to step back and discuss what the council and citizens want along the road.

Mayor Pro Tem Jim Ward said that passing the moratorium now wasn’t an either/or issue. He said that passing one right now wouldn’t be effective, because the town would wind up losing a lot of time under a moratorium when the council wasn’t in session.

“It has our attention, and it will gain more attention and thought over the next few months,” he said.

“We have common historical values, we have common architectural values,” she said. “We are a neighborhood, and you are part of it.” Yup, that is what this is all about.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Holding Back the Wrecking Ball / NY | EDITORIAL
Holding Back the Wrecking Ball

Published: July 1, 2008
The downturn in the real estate market has slowed but by no means halted the number of teardowns. Teardowns is the practice of buying an older home to demolish it and replace it with a house that dwarfs structures nearby and covers most of its own lot. Just this month in Greenwich, Conn., a granite 1886 Richardsonian Romanesque home was razed with nary a peep of protest. In the last three years, Greenwich has lost scores of homes built in the 1800s. The issue is not merely taste. Some “starter castles” irrevocably change the character of established neighborhoods. And while few mourn the passing of a 1965 split-level ranch, razing real architectural gems should not be taken lightly.

In 2002, the National Trust for Historic Preservation identified 100 communities in 20 states where teardowns were taking place in architecturally significant neighborhoods. By 2008 the list had grown to around 500 communities in 40 states — with about a third of those in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. In Dallas, during the last 10 years, as many as 1,000 homes have been torn down in the early-20th-century sections of Highland Park and University Park, and teardowns have proliferated in a dozen historic neighborhoods in Denver.

Communities are properly wary of denying owners the right to build, but circumstances can demand action. Hinsdale, Ill., which has lost one third of its houses to teardowns since the 1980s, restricted the practice when the spread of pavement and patios prevented water from sinking into the soil and increased flooding problems.

The most thoughtful approach increases public awareness and participation. In Westport, Conn., a popular Web site features Teardown of the Day, which publicizes planned demolitions as well as before-and-after pictures. Other towns have imposed mandatory demolition delays for houses older than 60 years to give time for the public to react and offer alternatives. That, at least, gives preservationists a fighting chance.

A Positive Development

Raleigh City Council voted in the expedited NCOD on July 1. A round of applause is in order...

The OTT/ITB Award for June goes to the Raleigh CIty Council for this Positive Development.

Victory for McMansion opposers
Tuesday, July 01, 2008 | 4:37 PM

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Raleigh homeowners hoping to protect their neighborhoods from so-called McMansions can claim victory.

The infill debate about how to regulate tear downs in older neighborhoods has been going on for more than one year.

Tuesday the city council agreed to adopt new rules about how neighborhoods create standards for homebuilding in their communities.

Until now it took neighborhoods two years to amend guidelines for how new homes could be built. The process has been streamlined to take about six months.

Under the new rule, older neighborhoods are able to have a say about nine different categories when it comes to rebuilt homes. Among the categories are housing height and the distance homes are set back from the road.

For more information, visit the City of Raleigh's Website.
(Copyright ©2008 WTVD-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)