Potato Potato Potato: Capital City Bike Fest

Bikes on Fayetteville Street, Raleigh 

Bike on Fayetteville Street, Raleigh

Fayetteville and surrounding downtown streets were closed to cars this weekend for Raleigh’s 3rd annual Capital City Bike Fest.

Friday afternoon, Raleigh Mototcycle Police (with lights flashing) kicked things off by ushering in a Fayetteville Street parade of what became thousands of bikes of all shapes, sizes and artistry.

The event grows in size each year.  Live music, bikes, bike accessories, food, drink and fun were in abundance.Bike on Fayetteville Street, RaleighBike on Fayetteville Street, Raleigh

Abacus Says: All Signs Point to Yes

AbacusThis week I’ve been buried in market stats.  It’s important to understand what’s happening around you in the real estate world, but market statistics will drive you goofy.  Due to the amount of press the Housing Market has been getting, I’ve received lots of questions about the health of the local Raleigh market.  My intuition is probably sound, but that’s not always good enough.  So, I immersed myself in numbers and barely survived.

Today the N&O ran two Associated Press articles about the national housing slump with focus on the sharp drop in home sales during August.  Those articles catalyzed this post.

It is possible to cherry pick data in order to support any pre-formed conclusion.  Admittedly, the stuff I’ve been studying is a bit conflicted, but I didn’t cherry pick my way through it.  Though things change from one neighborhood to the next, the Raleigh area housing market is generally healthy.

The three graphs below show a small piece of the 2007 Raleigh housing market puzzle.  As mentioned, more and different data is available, but the stats graphed here are pretty good indicators.

The graphs focus on four Triangle MLS Areas in and around downtown Raleigh:
Area 1 – Inside the Beltline
Area 2 – North Raleigh
Area 3 – SE Raleigh
Area 4 – SW Raleigh (the area south of NC State University)

Graph - Number of Homes Sold in Central Raleigh - Jan through Aug 2007 Number of Homes Sold: Area 2 (North Raleigh) is the clear leader with an average of 218 homes sold per month.  Average number sold per month for the entire Triangle MLS region is 3113 (not shown on graph).

Graph - Average Price of Homes Sold in Central Raleigh - Jan through Aug 2007Average Home Price: Area 1 (Inside the Beltline) wins this category with an average price of $362,000 per home.  Average 2007 price for the entire Triangle MLS region is $238,000.

Graph - Days On Market for Homes Sold in Central Raleigh - Jan through Aug 2007Average Days on Market:  North Ralegh takes the prize again with an average of 49 days on the market for sold homes.  Average for the entire Triangle MLS region this year is 80 days on the market.

What about the important trends?  We are only looking at 2007, so long-term trends can’t be seen.  Looking at the short-term, nothing alarming stands out.  The big national drop in August home sales is not reflected locally.  The major short-term change is a reduction of Days-on-Market (which is not unhealthy).

Birthplace of Raleigh – Joel Lane House

Warning:  History Content (but real estate related).

Joel Lane House, Raleigh NCRaleigh still has a house from colonial times.  The Joel Lane House was built in the early 1770’s.  Keep in mind that was prior to the Revolutionary War (1775-1783), prior to the Declaration of Independence (1776) and prior to the founding of Raleigh (1792).  By today’s McMansion standards this is a very modest home.  In the 1700’s it was one of the finest homes around.

Joel Lane was instrumental in the founding of Wake County.  He was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Revolutionary War and served in several public offices, including a decade or so as State Senator.  In 1792, he sold 1000 acres of land to the State of North Carolina for the purpose of establishing the City of Raleigh.  One of Raleigh’s main streets bears his name.

Amazingly his house has survived.  In 1927 it was moved a short distance from its original location to where it stands now on the corner of St. Marys and Hargett Streets.  The Joel Lane House is preserved as a museum and is open to the public.  The tour is short but interesting.  If you visit, ask the curator to point out evidence that it once served a dual purpose as both tavern and home – The Ultimate Multi-Family House.

As you can imagine, it is now surrounded by modern residential development such as St Mary’s Townhomes and the presently unfinished Bloomsbury Estates condos.

There’s an interesting connection between the Joel Lane House and Boylan Heights which I’ll save for a future post.

Highly Endangered – Historic Paschal House

Paschal House Exterior ViewHere’s a great new opportunity that is not presently found in MLS.

Preservation North Carolina is trying to find a buyer for the historic Paschal House.  Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and situated on 3 acres overlooking a park in a very desirable ‘Inside The Beltline’ Raleigh neighborhood, this important modernist house is in danger of being sacrificed to development.

Paschal House Interior PhotoThe Paschal House was designed by James Fitzgibbon, who was a professor at North Carolina State University School of Design, partner of Buckminster Fuller, and part of a group that designed many radical modernist structures in North Carolina in the 1950s and 1960s.

Paschal House Fireplace PhotoThe property is priced at $2,500,000 to $5,750,000.  This wide price window allows flexibility for buyers.  The layout of the property may allow for 2 to 4 lots to be divided off leaving the house on approximately 1.3 acres.  PNC believes this could be done without sacrificing the integrity of the site.

It’s also eligible for a 30% North Carolina rehabilitation tax credit as well as a possible easement deduction and a property tax reduction.

This house is very cool.  Check it out on PNC’s website.

Death By A Thousand Cuts: Teardowns

Photo of house being torn down.  Source - National Trust for Historic Preservation website.  House not located in Raleigh.‘Teardown’ refers to the practice of destroying one house in order to build another.  This important issue has been prominent in the local Raleigh news this week.

1. WRAL TV hosted a discussion on ‘Headline Saturday’ yesterday.

2. The N&Ohas printed articles on teardowns, including one in today’s Sunday edition.

3. Raleigh’s 4th annual Neighborhood Exchange this weekend had a breakout session called ‘Infill! Refill! Overfill?’.

4. The City of Raleigh recently announced completion of the first phase of its analysis of neighborhood infill.  Spring of this year the City Council recognized the issue warranted attention and authorized a study.  Completion is scheduled for Summer 2008.  As I obtain details of the study, I’ll post them.

Tearing down a house is not always a bad thing, but the practice has grown into a significant problem.  Perfectly good homes are being destroyed.  However, the larger concern is many of them were historic, architecturally significant and irreplaceable.

All too often, the decision to tear down and replace a home is based purely on short-term financial gain.  Immediate consequences for the neighbors and long-term consequences for the neighborhood are ignored.  Sensitivity to neighborhood character and lifestyle is rare as the replacement houses are typically much larger and of different style than the surrounding homes.  Often they are spec houses built by developers who don’t live in the neighborhood.

The teardown trend has become epidemic on a national scale.  Raleigh’s historic neighborhoods (and perhaps a neighborhood near you) are threatened with extinction.  Death of one historic home at a time ultimately leads to death of the historic neighborhood which in turn affects the health of the city.

Raleigh was founded in 1792.  It’s one of the few cities in the US with interesting historic neighborhoods seamlessly blending into the downtown core.  Do we want future visitors to feel Raleigh was instead founded in 1972?  If so, keep tearing down historic homes, but don’t expect those visitors to come back a second time.

Obvious social, political, environmental and financial issues are woven into the teardown problem.  This topic will be revisited.