walkitout (walkitout) wrote,
walkitout
walkitout

Teardowns, mostly Weston

http://www.commonwealthestates.com/blogs/michael_palmer/archive/2010/07/19/boston-globe-article-about-michael-palmer-commonwealth-estates.aspx

Massive tilt to the article, which is hugely conservative (in the, "don't change things" sense, not in the Conservative Movement sense). This is someone reposting coverage of themselves, and I don't blame him. While the author of the piece is horrified by what Michael Palmer does, the author presents a detailed sense of how he does it. It is interesting to learn that there are people specializing in the "local knowledge" component. I'm used to looking for certain partners in a Big Development Deal (300 unit multi family + retail + etc. type thing): local developer to drive the regulatory process, national developer (often out of Texas, but not always) who is accustomed to doing the actual building, financing partner for the money, management partner, marketing partner. Some of the tasks overlap, obviously, and sometimes things are done sequentially rather than cooperatively and occasionally you get weird things like the railroad yard owner's participation in the big Cambridge project (notice I'm not naming names here -- that railroad is litigious and I don't feel like having them parachute into my blog and make trouble for me). I'm _not_ used to the idea of a "scout", but I'm betting there are more of these kinds of consultants/matchmakers.

The article captures several True Facts about teardown locations: once you get one or two in a neighborhood, you tend to get a cluster. The people selling teardowns are often philosophical about it, despite having lived in the place for decades. The real damage to the neighborhood isn't actually the built environment but the culture clash between the previous group of homeowners (from an older age cohort with a different style of doing things) and the new group of homeowners. The article obviously highlights the differences and it is not really possible to tell how accurate this is (that is, are all the new homeowners disconnected from all the older homeowners, or is it cohort driven or is it more complex or what). Oh, and here's another observation: "But as one gets closer to metropolitan Boston, says Palmer, his experience over the past 25 years is that the laws of supply and demand have in large part retained control, especially in communities that are a short commute to Boston with good public schools, a low crime rate, a high-end commercial and recreational infrastructure, and convenient transportation options."

If you fight through the politics, you can learn from this kind of detailed coverage.
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