The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

30 December 2006

Saturday spottings (respotted)

Beverly Bryant gets the cover story in the Oklahoman's Real Estate Magazine on Saturday, and today she hit an area I've talked about before: south of NW 10th near Blackwelder, legally the Neas Addition to Oklahoma City, which I described as "a relatively nice, if obviously not at all upscale, neighborhood." "Nice," of course, is in the eye of the beholder, but I saw this area as slowly improving. The new streetscaping along 10th, a gesture made by the city to discourage St Anthony Hospital from fleeing to the suburbs, helps somewhat, but it does nothing for the side streets, which are WWI-era narrow and often clogged.

Today's story reports that Neighborhood Housing Services, an Oklahoma City nonprofit, is focusing on 7th Street; they've built three homes in the 1300 block, between Ellison and Douglas, to sell for $85,000. This is a bit high for the area — there are lots of $55k, even $45k houses nearby — but it's only about half the usual price for new homes in central Oklahoma, and a check of some properties within a block or two suggests that prices in this area are rising a little faster than average.

The floorplan is a fairly simple one, with three bedrooms and two baths and a one-car garage: living space is about 1160 square feet. And we can expect more of these, says NHS's David Ash:

For 2007, NW 7 is our main target. We will be going down the street to find dilapidated houses and empty lots where we can build new houses. We want to revitalize NW 7.

I drove down 7th from Ellison to Virginia, and I counted about half a dozen potential locations — which, of course, depends on one's definition of "dilapidated." ("Empty," I figure, isn't open to debate.)

I have to applaud this sort of thing on general principle, since I have long been persuaded that the best way to maintain a neighborhood is to maximize the number of homeowners therein, and not everybody can afford the mythical "average" home: the local median home price in the third quarter was just under $120,000. (This is, I must point out, pricier than any house on my block, assuming the real-estate firm that bought the house across the street from me doesn't perform some massive upgrades before reselling. Of course, if they're just going to use it as a rental — but let's not go there.) Perhaps it will never be beautiful in the old Neas Addition, but it's worth the effort to keep it livable.

Posted at 6:47 PM to City Scene

In constant dollars, some of the cost delta is due to new building/electrical code requirements that didn't exist 50+ years ago.

I don't know a lot about the general building stuff, but I'd guess there's an additional $1,500 in electrical in a place today due to the current code.

Larger panels (100A minimum in most places where in years past a 30/60A fuse box would have gotten by), many more branch circuits required, larger 20A wire on the kitchen/bath required branches, more receptacles and lights required, GFCI/AFCI requirements, blah, blah, blah. On a smallish 3br place that would up the bid quite a bit over 1940 materiels and hours to install.

Thermopane vs single pane, more insulation, furnaces with more safety interlock systems, etc.

Posted by: Purple Avenger at 2:33 AM on 31 December 2006

Indeed. I doubt you could replicate my late-40s house today for less than $100k. Even Habitat for Humanity, which works a lot of sweat equity into its pricing, can't bring off a new house around here for much less than $70k.

Posted by: CGHill at 8:51 AM on 31 December 2006