Can These Neighborhoods Be Saved?

ConfusedAs you drive around many older neighborhoods in Fairfax County Virginia you see street after street where both the booming real estate market and potential oversight by the local zoning authorities have created neighborhood nightmares.  Whether it is the McMansions  sitting next to the original single family homes or where zoning violations are evident the question becomes can these neighborhoods be saved?

Having grown up in the area and watched some of these Fairfax County neighborhoods go from quiet “country” hamlets to full blown subdivisions it is sad to see the transformation.  Yesterday I was driving through one area to check in on some original neighbors and began to wonder what it would take to put things right again.

Now don’t get me wrong I’m not against progress and most of these older homes are obsolete by today’s building standards.  However when there are no community standards for expansion then you end up with neighborhoods that have little appeal to anyone.  The larger McMansions were not truly built to be large single family homes and the smaller homes now surrounded by them bring little interest from younger buyers who might have considering purchasing them with plans to update or undertake a reasonable rennovation.

Unfortunately, it seems that the only thing that can be done is for a smart developer to come in and rebuild the entire community.  Does that sound like a radical choice?  If you had asked me that question a few years ago I would have thought NO.  Now as I look around at the number of homes in foreclosure, the original homes that can’t be sold and the look of neglect that is creeping into the streets of these neighborhoods it could be that the answer is very different.

Many of these neighborhoods are close to public transportation, county parks and plans for revitalization of the shopping areas are already approved.  With raw land close in being harder to come by it makes me curious as to how long it will take for a smart developer to figure out how ripe these neighborhoods are for the picking and start quietly buying up the foreclosures and getting their plans in order to rebuild when the market rebounds. 

So I’ll be standing by, checking the tax records and county planning maps to see if there are others who are thinking the same way I am.  In the meantime it is a sobering view of what happens when no one is minding the store!  Neighborhoods with no identity!

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