Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Mid-Century Neighborhood Inside the Beltline - Is it on your radar?

The beginning of the 2013 spring housing market was pretty hectic for just about every Realtor that I know. Multiple offers. Cash deals. Appraisal issues. I wrote at least 5 or 6 offers for several clients before they finally got a house. The news is finally catching on to what those of us close to the ground already know - the market is back.  The problem is - little inventory.  Those looking to live "inside the beltline" are having to duke it out with several other buyers.  Many buyers are disappointed at what their money can buy ITB.  $300k will get you a great location, but a fixer upper that needs at least another $100k.  Many people just can't do that. Options are to consider a smaller house, perhaps? But if you're looking to start a family, that may not be an option either. 

It's with this background that I'd like to introduce you to Longview Gardens.  If you're in that
$200k to $400k range and aren't finding what you want, you may want to expand your search.  ITB to many agents means "area 1" in the MLS system.  The problem with only looking in area 1 is that you miss half of downtown.  The eastern border of Area 1 is Raleigh Blvd, and the southern border is New Bern Ave.  There's a whole section to the east that is STILL inside the beltline that you miss if you only look in area 1. This other area is area 3, and that is where we find Longview Gardens.

Built in the 40's and 50's, you'll find all sorts of mid-century architecture here on HUGE lots.  

In 2011 it was awarded status on the National Register of Historic Places. This is different than what you may know of Oakwood and Boylan Heights - those are local historic districts, that have restrictions on what you can do to the exterior.  The National Register does not carry such restrictions, but it does mean that a home can potentially be eligible for tax credits

Right now there are 4 houses on the market in Longview Gardens, from $125k to $399k, including one listed by Peter Rumsey and Debra Smith.  Their listing on Lord Ashley is 4422 sq ft, making this house $90/sq ft.  And 3592sf of that is above grade, with 830 in the basement. This house in area 1 would be at least $150/ft and would probably be torn down to build a mcmansion since it sits on over half an acre. If you need space, you gotta see this one. 

There are also some great starter houses like the one on King Charles for $125k.  

So, who lives in Longview Gardens?  Well, Matt Griffith of In Situ Studio, that's who.  And lots of other great folks.  Matt recently wrote about his house for their newsletter, but you can find the article here

Hopefully you've learned about a great neighborhood that may have been off your radar. Tell your buyer's agent to expand your search or shoot me a note if you don't have an agent and would like to take a look at some of these homes in Longview.  

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Missing Middle: Housing Opportunity for Raleigh

I recently stumbled across this article about the Missing Middle housing type in cities across America.  It was incredibly refreshing to me to find this article because until finding it, I was pretty sure that I was the only person who recognized this missing piece in the housing market (in Raleigh anyway). We have big condo buildings and houses, with not much in between. 

Those who know me know that I have been involved in the Blount Street Commons project, along with Peter Rumsey, for the past two years.  Blount Street Commons was originally envisioned as a neighborhood that would recreate the past and bring the wealthy families back to Blount Street.  (For a little history, check out this old article).  In addition to the wealthy families in the historic homes along Blount Street, there would be a mix of row homes, and condos to complete the mix.  Needless to say, the downturn in 2008 had a huge impact on the neighborhood and a few things had to be adjusted.  Things are picking up now and the neighborhood is making a comeback, which brings us back to the Missing Middle. 

There are five empty lots along Blount Street that were originally planned for single family homes.  Given the character of the street, these homes would need to be quite large, at least 3500-4000 sf, and plans would have to be approved by RHDC.  The market has simply not been there for single family homes, so we've been brainstorming on other uses of the space while still bringing residents to the neighborhood.  

In thinking about the demographics of downtown and how the residents are largely either young professionals or empty nesters/retirees, and being someone who hates stairs myself, it occurred to me that if you wanted to live in a flat (one level condo), you had no choice but to live in a large condo building with 200+ other people.  

Other cities have 2 and 3 story walk ups with 3 one-level units.  Some buildings have six or eight apartments in one building, essentially a low to mid-rise building in a more residential neighborhood.  Raleigh does not have this kind of product. 

We do have a few small scale condo buildings:  Martin Place has 12 units (and stairs), the BSC row houses are new and clustered in small rows of 4 (also have stairs), and Hillsborough Street has a few buildings with less than 25 units, but they lack the quality that can be found in today's condo homes. A few of the condos built along Cabarrus Street in Boylan Heights are one level, but that's all we have. There aren't many options for low-rise, one-level living with high quality features in an elevator building.  The developers of Fairview Row have recognized this, but they are targeting the luxury market with $800k plus units. 

I believe that Blount Street Commons *is* the Missing Middle for Raleigh and it provides the ultimate mixed use space only blocks from downtown.  The neighborhood has grand historic homes, row homes, carriage homes, and town homes with rooftop decks (coming soon). The mix of businesses from the AIA building to Gallery C to the Seaboard shops only a block away and the Person St shops around the corner put you right in the middle of everything.  The ability to stroll through Oakwood on a morning walk, walk a few blocks to museums and the Capital, and jump on the R-Line for anything else gives this location a unique and intimate feel while being in the heart of everything.

So - back to the Missing Middle.  I strongly believe that there is demand for one-level living in a neighborhood like Blount Street Commons.  Picture what looks like a large historic home (but newly constructed), with 4-6 condos inside with an elevator, nice shared common space, and well designed floor plans.  If that sounds interesting to you, shoot me a note