The Opposite of Flipping
In This Post
Is the opposite of flipping legal?
Karen Fiddler's recent post Don't House Flippers Deserve A Profit? stirred me enough to write about a local issue, which I'm sure is a problem in other cities as well.
Karen contends that flippers have a right to earn a profit from their efforts and there was not too much disagreement once acquisition methods were defined. Flippers improve a property and that improves the neighborhood as well. In my case I live near a relatively busy intersection. There is also a school nearby which was just remodeled to the tune of $93MM. It is considered a landmark building and it's views and views of it are supposedly protected. To further describe the neighborhood, it is predominantly single-family, older homes built between 1900 and 1935.
The commercial core of the neighborhood is centered 5 blocks west. The Neighborhood Association spent the last 15 years or so, developing a growth plan with anticipation that a light rail station would one day be somewhere near here. The association lobbied for the station and got it and it will be located one block from the core intersection in 2019.
Fast track backward about 40 years. An individual purchased a home in the neighborhood. I don't know if he lived there or not. The seventies were not pretty in Seattle as that was the period when Boeing almost closed completely. The same man was able to pick up a few more properties. Eventually he found that if two of his properties bookended another property and his properties looked like hell, the other property would be of less value. You may think I'm making this up, or imagining it, but I have seen property listed next door to some of his holdings. When something like that would come on the market he would have his "tenants" pile garbage along the property line in an effort to make the property unsalable. And he often succeeded.
The issue I and most other residents of the area have is how this man is trying to profit from his degradation of the neighborhood. Because of the light rail station, the neighborhood association has up zoned property around the station and the core to 40 and 60 foot heights to accommodate increases in population which will hopefully use the mass transit system. The land owner, now owning a block of at least 45 properties wants zoning of up to 160 feet. His proposal is to build two 160 foot towers, one of 125 feet and three of 85 feet directly south and east of the renovated school, and on the fringe of the village limits and the next neighborhood of single family homes.
Several things bother those of us who treasure the neighborhood we live in. One is that this person never had any valuable input during the planning stages. Another is that whatever he has owned has not been maintained. Once a slum lord, always a slum lord. Another is that the towers would utterly destroy a well kept single family neighborhood and the integrity of the remodeled school.
I could go on for hours and already have in another blogging venue. The question is, "Should a person be allowed to make a profit in a neighborhood after intentionally devaluing that neighborhood?" The problem we face is that most everyone from outside the neighborhood and out side the city says yes build the towers there in place of the slum you now have. Save some trees from being cut down for development in the Cascade foothills. And on and on about how green it is.