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  #1  
Old Posted Apr 20, 2016, 12:09 PM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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Save Young Avenue group calls for historical designation for Halifax street

From the CBC:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-s...lifx-1.3543018

This is a little concerning to me as there are really some beautiful, stately properties on Young Avenue. It is the type of street that you would drive down with out-of-towners just to show them some of the amazing buildings there. Quite a few of them have ties to famous or prominent Haligonians as well.

The problem is that there's a business case for ripping them down, subdividing the lots and building new and nothing to stop developers from doing just that.

I realize that, since this is Nova Scotia, there will probably be some backlash because some people will look at it as just the rich trying to protect their properties, but it goes beyond that. Some of these places are just amazing - houses that only the rich could afford to build, using the best materials and not scrimping on the details. The like of which will never be built again, in some cases.

I've read a lot recently about Vancouver's problem of 'investors' ripping town heritage houses by the dozens just to build new houses for profit - I'm hoping that this isn't becoming a trend in Halifax...
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  #2  
Old Posted Apr 20, 2016, 12:31 PM
JET JET is offline
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I expect that Keith will be all over this, like a dog with a bone. A few years back I had asked him if there were any wooden structures in Halifax that were worth saving and he had said yes some of the big old houses on Young Ave.
I was looking up one of the old houses that was torn down to build five new houses, the The Heritage Trust Griffin has an article on that house starting on page ten, http://www.htns.ca/pdf_Griffin/G0712-34.pdf
The article also has a couple of early maps of Halifax. We all know about the Road to Point Pleasant; I had never of Street to Gorhams Point. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_G...1750_inset.jpg
For the Young Street houses, it doesn't matter what they do, a developer can still tear down the buildings given current Heritage guidelines; unless there are new laws to protect Heritage, it will continue.
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  #3  
Old Posted Apr 20, 2016, 12:55 PM
Drybrain Drybrain is offline
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The city only has only one street like this, plus a couple of properties along the Arm. Rosedale in Toronto is a heritage conservation district, so surely we can designate a few blocks here the same.

Maybe there are some NIMBY rich folks, but meh, I don't care. The architecture is well worth conserving, and one or two old-money enclaves are part and parcel of a large city.
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  #4  
Old Posted Apr 20, 2016, 1:03 PM
JET JET is offline
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Originally Posted by Drybrain View Post
The city only has only one street like this, plus a couple of properties along the Arm. Rosedale in Toronto is a heritage conservation district, so surely we can designate a few blocks here the same.

Maybe there are some NIMBY rich folks, but meh, I don't care. The architecture is well worth conserving, and one or two old-money enclaves are part and parcel of a large city.
We can, but designation does not equate preservation; at least not here.
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  #5  
Old Posted Apr 20, 2016, 1:17 PM
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Originally Posted by JET View Post
I expect that Keith will be all over this, like a dog with a bone. A few years back I had asked him if there were any wooden structures in Halifax that were worth saving and he had said yes some of the big old houses on Young Ave.

Yes, it is a difficult issue for sure.

Many big cities with hot housing markets are facing similar issues. Some of the tonier areas of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver are seeing similar pressures where houses are bought for millions and then torn down to be replaced by new mansions worth tens of millions.

I am of two minds on it. While the original properties are unique to their time they are from a certain era and do not reflect what the moneyed tech and drug lords of today want - indoor pools, bedrooms the size of single-family homes, 12-car garages, home theaters that seat 40 or 50, and stripper poles in the living room. Why stand in their way, I say. Let them do it and allow future generations 100 years from now see to what we have wrought in our society.
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  #6  
Old Posted Apr 20, 2016, 5:03 PM
Metalsales Metalsales is offline
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I'm glad someone brought this up.

The funny part about this is that it is targeting developers as the bad guy, but if a person with the cash wants to buy one, rip it down and build something new, nothing is said.

Case and point being 840 Young ave. This house was bought, demolished, and a new modern house was put there. Nothing said at all.
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Old Posted Apr 20, 2016, 6:03 PM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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I don't think this is about targeting anyone as a "bad guy", it's about a city recognizing its finite supply of significant buildings.

If there are no laws to govern it, anybody can buy anything and do what they want with it. The difference is that sometimes, especially with certain "heritage buildings", they hold a value over and above the financial cost of the property that is of benefit to our local society, be it a building technique no longer practiced, a link to a historical figure, or just inherent beauty. So in that sense we all have the potential to suffer a loss when one of them is torn down.

As has been said countless times on this forum, this is where the city has to make rules as to what can and can't be done in certain cases. It's not as draconian as it appears - there are rules for everything, be it zoning rules, building codes or what have you. Preserving significant (heritage or not) buildings can be done and usually ends up with an owner or developer who either cares about preserving the building, or at least is willing to work within the rules to do so, while still turning a profit or creating a nice place in which to live/work.

There are no "bad guys", just people trying to accomplish goals that are important to them. It's up to the people who make the rules to ensure that it's done in a manner that protects the city's/citizens' interests as well. Thusfar it appears that Halifax is particularly weak in doing so.
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  #8  
Old Posted Apr 20, 2016, 6:51 PM
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I think there is a difference in saying that a street like Young Avenue cannot have existing lots subdivided - something I would support - and that you cannot substantially alter or otherwise change the structures that are now there.
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  #9  
Old Posted Apr 21, 2016, 12:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Keith P. View Post
Many big cities with hot housing markets are facing similar issues. Some of the tonier areas of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver are seeing similar pressures where houses are bought for millions and then torn down to be replaced by new mansions worth tens of millions.
I am not sure about LA but the nice old neighbourhoods of San Francisco are remarkably intact and notoriously regulated. San Francisco is the kind of place where you can be held up for years for wanting to add a deck to your house. If I had to hazard a guess it would be that well to do areas of LA are the same. In Vancouver, Shaugnessy was recently designated a heritage conservation area. It is the part of town analogous to Young Avenue in Halifax. Most of the demolitions of mansions in Vancouver are happening farther west and most of those buildings are quite new (often from the 1970's-1990's). Vancouver is a very new city and only a small percentage of the building stock is historic, even in the inner parts of town.

First and foremost I think perspective is important. We are talking about one tiny part of the city. If you want a giant McMansion with a stripper pole there are a huge number of options in Halifax that don't involve tearing down 100 year old Tudor-style mansions. In general if you want modern buildings and lots of space the core of the city is not for you.

The impact of well-designed conservation rules on property owners in the area could be pretty minimal. The flippers and speculators would just move on. Owners could still be able to make sympathetic modifications or add new buildings like laneway houses. Anybody who isn't happen with that can sell their property and move; anybody planning to gut or tear a house down clearly isn't that attached to it anyway.

I think Halifax should have a number of conservation areas: the old South End, old North End (Falkland/Maynard area), Barrington, Historic Properties and area, and maybe around Jubilee. In these areas heritage property owners would need approval from a heritage board to make modifications to these buildings, and in exchange they'd get tax rebates. Empty lots and buildings of little or no heritage value could be developed as usual in many cases; maybe in others they'd need to have ground floor architectural features designed to be compatible with neighbours (Vic Suites is a pretty good example of this). I think cohesive conservation districts would result in more desirable neighbourhoods than what would be possible with free-for-all development rules. They'd also be popular with visitors.
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  #10  
Old Posted Apr 21, 2016, 1:00 AM
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Originally Posted by someone123 View Post
I am not sure about LA but the nice old neighbourhoods of San Francisco are remarkably intact and notoriously regulated. San Francisco is the kind of place where you can be held up for years for wanting to add a deck to your house. If I had to hazard a guess it would be that well to do areas of LA are the same. In Vancouver, Shaugnessy was recently designated a heritage conservation area. It is the part of town analogous to Young Avenue in Halifax. Most of the demolitions of mansions in Vancouver are happening farther west and most of those buildings are quite new (often from the 1970's-1990's). Vancouver is a very new city and only a small percentage of the building stock is historic, even in the inner parts of town.
Vancouver:
http://www.vancitybuzz.com/2016/03/v...-asking-price/

San Francisco:
http://www.businessinsider.com/san-f...million-2015-3

or
http://www.mercurynews.com/business/...-are-torn-down

Hell-A:
http://www.latimes.com/local/califor...22-column.html

or
http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/new...eardown-714176

A summary report:
http://www.wsj.com/articles/multimil...all-1449758002


Seems to be the thing to do these days.
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  #11  
Old Posted Apr 21, 2016, 11:43 AM
JET JET is offline
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From your San Francisco link: https://www.redfin.com/CA/San-Franci...22/home/635970 sold for $1.2 million, 'in a deteriorative state' that's a new word for me, doesn't roll off the tongue easily.
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  #12  
Old Posted Apr 21, 2016, 11:56 AM
Nor'easter Nor'easter is offline
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I'm getting tired of these sensationalist publications asserting that these houses are worth this much. The houses themselves actually have a negative value in all these cases--the buyer must first pay to have them demolished.

You buy a new $1000 television, and throw the box in the trash.
Headline: "Man throws out $1000 box"
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Old Posted Apr 21, 2016, 2:29 PM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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Originally Posted by Nor'easter View Post
I'm getting tired of these sensationalist publications asserting that these houses are worth this much. The houses themselves actually have a negative value in all these cases--the buyer must first pay to have them demolished.

You buy a new $1000 television, and throw the box in the trash.
Headline: "Man throws out $1000 box"
Clearly in these particular cases the buyer is paying the money for the lot (location), however it is not wrong to say that the houses are worth the selling price as the purchaser also has the option of renovating or living in the existing house, and were in competition with others who may have been interested in renovating the existing dwelling.

It just so happens that the 'winning' buyers in these cases are very well-off and can afford to buy an expensive house to tear it down - cost isn't as much of a consideration to them as finding the desired location to build on.
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Old Posted Apr 21, 2016, 4:23 PM
OldDartmouthMark OldDartmouthMark is offline
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Originally Posted by JET View Post
From your San Francisco link: https://www.redfin.com/CA/San-Franci...22/home/635970 sold for $1.2 million, 'in a deteriorative state' that's a new word for me, doesn't roll off the tongue easily.
It's listed in online dictionaries as an adjective form of deteriorate, so I guess it's correct, but you're right that it certainly doesn't flow well.

I think it's being used as sales jargon. Rather than calling it 'run-down', it's 'in a deteriorative state', much like a 'used car' is now called a 'pre-owned car', often with words like "certified", etc. thrown in so you no longer believe that you are throwing your hard-earned (or hard-borrowed) somebody's 'piece of crap abused vehicle'...
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Old Posted Apr 21, 2016, 4:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Nor'easter View Post
I'm getting tired of these sensationalist publications asserting that these houses are worth this much. The houses themselves actually have a negative value in all these cases--the buyer must first pay to have them demolished.
The place I used to live in on the west side of Vancouver is assessed at $2.4M as of July 1, 2015. The value of the buildings is listed as only $165,000. The house is like a low end house in West End Halifax, not something from Young Avenue.

$1.2M houses in reasonable nice San Francisco generally speaking are dumps, often of no heritage value whatsoever. Vancouver has literal shacks that sell for $800,000.
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