The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

13 April 2003

The blues, or at least the greens

I figure, I'm a Baltic Avenue sort of guy; I'd like to stay away from Mediterranean if possible — been there, didn't like it — but my aspirations don't rise much beyond Oriental or Vermont or Connecticut.

My daughter recently bought in on St. Charles Place, and while she was here in town this weekend, we somehow wound up doing a brisk impromptu tour of some of the higher colors on the board. We didn't get to Boardwalk, what with the big metal gates and all, but we did spend a few minutes on Park Place, and we hit some of the newer developments on the far side of Free Parking.

"When I see one of these places," she said somewhere around Ventnor Avenue, "I want to go up to the door and ask them, 'What in the world do you do for a living? How can you afford a place like this?'"

I said something like "You never know. Maybe the meth lab finally paid off."

We passed a teardown, where a grand old house from the Twenties was being replaced with something maybe more modern, certainly twice the size, and I pointed out that this was a small but annoying trend: "You'll find this sort of thing in new developments also: houses about twice as big as they ought to be for the lot. There's a whole subdivision full of McMansions that way." I gestured in the general direction of the Water Works.

"They have no yard," she complained. "I gripe about my yard, but at least I have one."

On the far reaches of town, we passed a new development going up. Gated, of course, and the sign contained the following requirement: Minimum 3200 sf.

"Thirty-two hundred!? That's three times the size of my house!"

"Fairly standard for new construction in this area," I said. "You live in 1067 square feet?"

"About twelve hundred. How could you possibly keep a place like that clean?"

"If you can afford the mortgage, you can probably also afford to have someone come in three times a week and cycle the dust."

"I wouldn't have it," she declared. "Seventeen hundred is big enough for me."

"Especially since you don't actually have it, huh?"

"Exactly." This child is way too much like me for her own good.

We took a run to the opposite end of town, to a development called Rivendell, mostly because I figured she'd be amused by the very concept, and somewhere east of Lorien Way (very much in the spirit of Marvin Gardens) I introduced the very same Monopoly metaphor I've been abusing here.

"I love these places," she admitted, "but I really don't want to live in something like this. It would be nice, though, to get a house up on St. James Place."

"It might at that," I agreed, and we turned around and headed back towards the railroad tracks.

Posted at 9:09 AM to Next Generation


I was in Tulsa, visiting a lawyer friend of mine who was doing well for himself. So well, that he was looking for other lawyers to take some of the load. He made a semi-serious pitch for me to come out to Tulsa at a slight raise in exchange for being the second name on the door; he inquired how much I paid for my 1600-sq.-ft. DC-area condo, and when I told him, he pointed to one of the big mansions nearby his office: "Yeah, you could get two of those for that price." If only I wasn't on the foolhardy quest to find a Jewish wife, I might've taken him up on it.

Posted by: Max Power at 9:21 AM on 14 April 2003

This post makes me smile. ;-)

Yes, folks in Nichols Hills (Park Place? Broadway?) buy a house just to tear it down and build a newer, bigger house. Stranger still, in some areas one can build two stories on one side of the street, but not on the other. This leads to some really strange property valuations.

Posted by: Dan at 9:37 AM on 14 April 2003

The teardown, if I remember correctly, was indeed in Nichols Hills, on a comparatively modest block of Avondale Drive. (You want Park Place, you go to, say, Grand just west of Penn, or maybe up Nichols Road near the Buttram house.)

Posted by: CGHill at 9:42 AM on 14 April 2003