Tuesday, March 12, 2013

New house, old neighborhood: Mansionization and Infill

As I noted two weeks ago (before a nasty cold knocked me out for a bit), I'm starting this blog as a way to highlight changes big and small going on in Charlotte.  I'm starting from my view in Plaza-Shamrock, a neighborhood northeast of downtown Charlotte and 1 mile south of NoDa.  And as I'm still relatively new to Charlotte (moved July 2012), I may botch up neighborhood names, so please correct me if I misname something.  Anyway, I walk around my neighborhood at least once, if not twice a day, since I've got a dog that likes to see more than the backyard.  Loretta the Dog will have guest post on CityCentric Charlotte at some point.

On my walks with Loretta, a trend I've noticed in my neighborhood is turnover in housing types via three types of changes:

  1. New houses constructed on vacant lots.
  2. Existing houses undergoing extensive renovations/expansions.
  3. Existing houses being torn down, with new houses built on their lots.
I'll focus on the item #1, New houses on vacant lots, for this post, and follow up on 2 and 3 soon.

New Houses on Vacant Lots
The southern end of Fulton Avenue, near Central Avenue, has three new homes designed in Neo-Craftsman style.  Google StreetView is a great tool for piecing together what streets may have looked like in the recent past.  The image below is from September 2011.

Moving forward to last week, there are now three infill homes, below.

Grandfather Homes built these three houses, and they're also planning six more further north on Mecklenburg Avenue.  See the photo below for the house that was previously on the 1.25 acre lot (see the "For Sale" sign in yard?).  I'm sure some neighbors are grumbling at the change, but a 1.25 acre lot is HUGE for an in-town neighborhood like Plaza-Midwood.

The plan for the site is to locate six lots on a "barbell roundabout cul-de-sac" (see site plan photo further down).  The lots are still over the 5,000 SF/lot zoning and the density will increase six-fold, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, given its in-town location.  And yes, they DID keep the mature oak street tree, so good for them.  As with other projects I'm noticing, I'll update the blog with construction photos as projects move along.

As to whether these homes will sell for $500,000, time will tell.  Another group of homes that I walk by regularly, "Plaza Midwood on Georgia Avenue," was originally billed in the high $400,000s in August 2007 -   one of these houses is now selling for $279,000, so it's anybody's guess.  Real estate is an odd business, is it not?

Plaza Midwood on Georgia Avenue, as noted in August 2007 Realtor Reflections, was developed by Marand Builders.  They planned 18 Craftsman-style homes, 3-4 bedrooms, ranging from 2,200-3,000 SF, some of which are shown below.  Only five of the planned 18 homes were built, clustered on the western end of Georgia Avenue, and none were built on Matheson Avenue or Florida Avenue.

My guess is that the recession truncated their numbers.  Still, I like and appreciate the concept - new homes in older neighborhoods, which like all good ideas, have some controversy, as evidenced by this article on mansionization.  I generally agree with the author that infill development is a good thing, especially if it's boosting a city's tax base, population, etc.  And depending on your urban design sensitivities to height, massing and scale, this process can sometimes result in  big and small houses next to one another (see photos below) - but hey, that's organic urban development, right?  I may be an armchair architect by saying this street looks okay with its mix of housing sizes and types, but a least it's not a cookie-cutter tract housing subdivision.

Coming up: Belmont (the Charlotte neighborhood, not the Gaston County town) Gets Rowhouses

Plaza Midwood on Georgia Ave., info board

Neo-Craftsman homes (vacant lots in foreground), Georgia Ave.
Vacant lot between Neo-Craftsman (left) and 1950s-era Cape Cod (right)

Neo-Bungalow from "Plaza Midwood on Georgia Avenue", Georgia Avenue
Older, smaller homes next to newer, larger homes.  2800 blk of Attaberry Dr.
Newer homes, with older home peeking out at right (white front), 2800 blk of Attaberry Dr.

Smaller, older home between two bigger, newer ones. 2800 blk of Attaberry Dr.