Sunday, November 13, 2005

How Do You Like Me Now?

This house on MLK Boulevard overlooking Lee St. stood in a state of severe disrepair for the first 12 years that I lived in Greensboro. I heard more than one person say that it was an eyesore beyond fixing that needed to be torn down.

A private investor (I don't know who) has brought it back to life: I can hear it saying to me, "How do you like me now?" (with apologies to JW).

Have a look at the decorative brackets and the curved tops on the window casings. I wonder how much it would cost to build something like this new; I'm pretty sure it would cost much more than the renovation.

This house is one of the few left in this style (I'm pretty sure it would be called "eclectic Italianate") in Greensboro. Thanks to whoever performed the resuscitation.


Diane Grey Davis said...

Hey David,

-You have brought up a point that bothers me about the push in Greensboro to bring all housing "up to code" or be destroyed.
-I think that many beautiful houses and buildings could be destroyed by this polilcy and left only in our memories.
-It is my understanding that all housing that is not brought up to code in a certain period of time must be taken down. Even buildings that are legally allowed to be boarded up must be "up to code" before they can be boarded up.
-The house on MLK that you love, might not have been available to be fixed up if this policy had been in place several years ago.
-I know of several old houses in Glenwood that should be saved. Maybe their time has not come. I hope they will not be destroyed before someone cares enough to fix them.
-I think that even in Greensboro's Historic District Overlay areas, houses can still be destroyed after timely notice has been given by the owner. Some owners (such as the owners of property at Friendly Ave. and Westover Ave.) deliberately let the houses fall into disrepair so they can be used for commercial sites.
-Better zoning decisions can help many areas of our city such as Glennwood and the area that some prefer to call the Cedar Street Area.
See ya,

jw said...

No apologies necessary, especially when my name is linked to something so incredibly beautiful!

David Wharton said...

Diane, my understanding of the policy you mention is that it comes at least partly from the complaints of neighborhood residents about empty, boarded-up houses attracting vagrants, crackheads, fires, etc. I sympathize with the neighbors who have to live near such problem houses, and I don't know an immediate solution to the dilemma you raise.

Here are some things that might help:

(1) houses in the locally-designated historic districts are supposed to protected by the "ordinance to prevent demolition by neglect." Under this ordinance, the city can order repairs to be made to historic propoerties, and in theory can carry the repairs out if the owner refuses to do so. But the city council has never funded this ordinance, so its enforcement is nearly a dead letter.

(2) Houses listed on the National Register of Historic Places are eligible for substantial state and (sometimes) federal rehabilitation tax credits. These can be an incentive for owners to fix their houses.

But as you know, Greensboro does not have a very strong culture of preservation (for reasons I don't quite understand), so lots of houses get torn down rather than gettig rehabbed.

Thanks for your comments. For what it's worth, I voted for you!