I've been following various pre-construction and construction developments here at Sycamore Village for the past two years. Here's what the corner of Sycamore and Jefferson looked like on Saturday afternoon.
I spent a few moments last week walking the site and saw all sorts of houses in various stages of development. All sorts of vexing questions came to mind.
First, while the two block area surrounding - north and east - Sycamore Village is experiencing tremendous foreclosure sales - here
- involving houses that were built in the last 10-15 years, who's asking the question about the real market demand for these heavily subsidized new builds at Sycamore Village? I mean why not buy a "new build" a block away for less than 20% of the proposed sale prices of these new houses? Or for that matter, where are the new owners coming from? Hamlin Park or other neighborhoods on the city's east side that are beginning to experience decline? Certainly not from the suburbs? Will be interesting to track for sure.
Second, while City Hall creates an artificial demand - on a site with questionable environmentals - for additional "vinyl victorian" couldn't we have returned to a neighborhood closer to the core between Genesee and Broadway and simply complete it? Lots of empty lots adjacent to 10 and 15 year old brick houses that fit this unique urban place. Here's a pic of what that neighborhood looks like, just two blocks to the west of Sycamore Village. So many spaces for infill...
Missed opportunity? i know.
Third, where's the innovation? If new housing is going to be built why not something different? Something green, energy efficient and something that reflects a more innovative approach to urban infill housing. So many opportunities to really get it right. Why not an international design competition for these spaces? For example, from a recent New York Times
article - Learning from Tijuana
- we learn that higher density and innovative urban housing development is being considered in Hudson, NY.
Another missed opportunity? Well, just heard about the proposal for the German Roman Catholic Orphan Home, a few blocks away. I'll be confirming some of these developments, soon.
Remember, this is what
the Sycamore Village area looked like in September 2006 while standing at the corner of Mortimer and Sycamore. Earlier, this house
- at the same corner stood 'till the summer of 2005. It had been recently re-roofed, was in excellenct structural condition and of course was later taken to a landfill.
In the country's second poorest city with the second largest of number of vacant properties/person in the country all we get is this heavily subsidized and ersatz
'vinyl victorian' crap. Why? Since when did being poor mean that we have to be so stupid?