Wednesday, July 06, 2011

NW Current: Threat of razing sparks outcry on Jocelyn

The July 6, 2011 edition of the NW Current has an article entitled "Threat of razing sparks outcry on Jocelyn". The Brady Holt piece describes the efforts of residents in the vicinity of 3901 Jocelyn Street who are opposing the raze permit submitted by developers earlier this summer upon purchasing the 10,000+ lot and house.

Recall the effort in 2007 by Historic Chevy Chase DC to create a historic district in anticipation of the neighborhood centennial. The effort proved to be too controversial and the application was never formally submitted to the Historic Preservation Office.

During the debate, one Historic District supporter suggested or better, warned about a coming "tipping point" in local neighborhood economics:

Rampant teardowns are triggered when a neighborhood reaches a tipping point on land economics. In our neighborhood (20015), the average price for an existing home is about $900,000. As a developer, I have calculated that when a homebuilder can reasonably expect to get about $1,800,000 for a new McMansion, he could afford to pay $900,000 for an existing historic house as if it were a vacant, buildable lot. As recent sale prices on the upper end demonstrate, we are getting dangerously close to this tipping point. And once we hit the tipping point, there is no going back, as has been seen by the rapid demolition of homes in places like residential Bethesda. It is worth setting up protections now, before we reach that point, rather than trying to fix it retroactively.

Given the number of new houses and teardowns on Jenifer Street, Nevada Avenue and Tennyson Street, these words from 2007 seem more prescient than ever.

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