Tuesday, October 24, 2006

South Slopes Got Wood

Message on the side of a home improvement contractors van: "Good as new is easy. Good as old takes real talent."

While many people's attention has been focused on the recent invasion of new "Fedders Style" condo buildings going up all over Brooklyn, some South Park Slope owners of modest two and three story, wood frame homes have been busy creating a kind of mini-restoration movement with a more traditional architectural aesthetic in mind.

Webster Place, nice...

In the last couple of years, real estate speculators, prospecting for any under utilized F.A.R. (floor area ratio) have been buying up these old wood buildings with the intention of tearing them down. Their offers to homeowners have been generous in some cases. Sometimes the deal depends on your adjacent neighbors selling as well. A kind of domino effect happens; First one house goes, then the next. No one really wants to be the last house left standing, sandwiched in on all sides by 5 story brick walls. For these speculators, the value is not in the house, but in the land the house sits on. Yes it's true, some of these homes have been neglected for so long and are in such disrepair that demolition seems like the only humanitarian thing left to do. I am not trying to start an argument against modern fire-proof construction. A small handfull of these new condos are vast improvements over what existed before.

Location, location, location...
A group of home owners has resisted these hyperinflated offers to sell, instead choosing to stay and rebuild. For these folks, the real treasure is hidden beneath layers of old asphalt shingles, faux-stone and aluminum siding.

So for those of you who believe the past should be part of our future, sit back and enjoy the IMBY South South Slope "Got Wood" 2006 House Tour. You can find all these houses in an area south of 9th Street, below 8th Avenue, above 4th Avenue, and north to Windsor Place.

A slice of 16th Street.

Side by side comparisons.

Scaffolding and Tyvek house wrap; the possibility for rebirth.

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