Monthly Archives: July 2014

131 Lenore Street

131 Lenore St. Credit: 2009 Citywide Historic Resources Survey.

131 Lenore St. Credit: 2009 Citywide Historic Resources Survey.

131 Lenore St. Prepped for teardown, July 1, 2014.

131 Lenore St. Prepped for teardown, July 1, 2014.

131 Lenore St. Demolished July 2014.

131 Lenore St. Demolished July 2014.

131 Lenore St., May 2015.

131 Lenore St., May 2015.

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Teardown city

In early 2014 the Decatur City Commission voted to annex 77 parcels in unincorporated DeKalb County. The Parkwood neighborhood was among the last residential subdivisions developed in historic Druid Hills. A portion of Parkwood had been annexed in 1909 by the Town of Oakhurst. Less than a decade later (1915), the Oakhurst portion of Parkwood became Decatur’s westernmost neighborhood when Decatur annexed Oakhurst.

The portion of Parkwood previously in DeKalb County is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Druid Hills Historic District. Druid Hills also is a locally designated DeKalb County historic district regulated by the DeKalb County Historic Preservation Commission.

Most of Parkwood's homes are brick ranch houses built after World War II. Many folks in Decatur and elsewhere consider these homes disposable. New Urbanist architect Steve Mouzon, writing on the teardown of another Decatur ranch house in late 2013, described it as something that "was apparently built during the 'Dark Ages of Architecture,' which is the half-century between 1930 and 1980."

Most of Parkwood’s homes are brick ranch houses built after World War II. Many folks in Decatur and elsewhere consider these homes disposable. New Urbanist architect Steve Mouzon, writing on the teardown of another Decatur ranch house (in Oakhurst) in late 2013, described it as something that “was apparently built during the ‘Dark Ages of Architecture,’ which is the half-century between 1930 and 1980.”

When Decatur annexed Parkwood’s remaining properties, the neighborhood lost its protection against teardowns. Parkwood residents urged Decatur’s appointed and elected officials to provide protection against the city’s teardown and mansionization plague and in July 2014, the City’s first official legislative and regulatory action involving Parkwood was the creation of a Parkwood local historic district — a limited district that only embraced the newly annexed properties.

Was the rush to designate Parkwood historic necessary? The residents thought so. As soon as local builders and realtors got wind that Parkwood was headed towards annexation, Decatur’s teardown mania spread to the neighborhood:

May 2014 Parkwood neighborhood Facebook posts about teardowns.

May 2014 Parkwood neighborhood Facebook posts about teardowns.

923 East Lake Dr.

Pop-top, July 2014.

923 East Lake Dr. Credit: 2009 Citywide Historic Resources Survey.

923 East Lake Dr. Credit: 2009 Citywide Historic Resources Survey.

923 East Lake Dr. Pop-top under construction, July 2014.

923 East Lake Dr. Pop-top under construction, July 2014.

923 East Lake Dr. Pop-top under construction, July 2014.

923 East Lake Dr. Pop-top under construction, July 2014.

Decatur teardowns: the data

Atlanta alt-weekly Creative Loafing on June 26, 2014 reported on Decatur teardowns. There was a lot missing from the CL article — including some critical thought by its author. Freelancer John Ruch appears to have taken at face value everything Decatur city officials told him about teardowns in the city. One passage really caught my eye:

City officials have learned that infill housing is consuming roughly 50 older houses and an uncertain number of trees a year.

Fifty? Citywide? Scroll through this site to compare the city’s numbers with the teardowns documented in one area — Oakhurst — less than a quarter of the city’s overall footprint. This site does not include all pop-tops and partial teardowns recorded in Oakhurst between October 2011 and June 2014 but this excerpt from my spreadsheet on them does.

OakhurstTeardownsTable

Oakhurst teardowns, Oct. 2011 through June 2014. The one 2010 datapoint reflects a house demolished in 2010 and constructed on the new home completed in 2011.

As for getting into the weeds on what is being built in Decatur, here’s a chart showing the square footages of homes torn down and the new homes that replaced them. The data show that the new homes often are 2-3 larger than the original homes. And, they are larger than the average developer-built home in the Southern U.S. (2,968 sq. ft.), according to census data.

OakhurstTeardownsChart

119 Lenore Street

LenoreStreet

The Bungalows at Oakhurst Village. Photographed July 2014.

In 2003 residents near this Oakhurst property asked the Decatur City Commission to deny a rezoning and subdivision for a nearby lot with an apartment building on South McDonough Street. One reason behind the request was the fear that approval of the South McDonough project would create a precedent for apartment buildings at 119 Lenore Street. One resident testified in 2003,

… in opposition to the application. She presented a statement in opposition (attached). She stated that she also believed that the site should be improved but that rezoning it was a slippery slope for the community. She stated that 119 Lenore Street was a similar multiple-family property and that rezoning 947 South McDonough Street would set a precedent to rezone that property.

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29 Spring Street

29 Spring Street. Credit: 2009 Citywide Historic Resources Survey.

29 Spring Street. Credit: 2009 Citywide Historic Resources Survey.

According to DeKalb County tax records, this c. 1948 ranch house had an area of 1,714 square feet. In June 2014 it was being substantially enlarged.

29 Spring Street. July 1, 2014.

29 Spring Street. July 1, 2014.

29 Spring Street. Credit: Google Maps.

29 Spring Street c. 2012. Credit: Google Maps.

29 Spring Street. July 1, 2014.

29 Spring Street. July 1, 2014.

29 Spring Street. July 1, 2014.

29 Spring Street. July 1, 2014.

706 South McDonough Street

Infill: A new “historically inspired home” completed in 2013 (by the same builder, at same time as 702 South McDonough St.) comes in at 2,952 square feet. It is 1,400 square feet larger than the one-story 1923 cottage next door.

706 South McDonough St.

706 South McDonough St.