Welcome to the first part of Filling In: 37 Eagle Street. I’d love to tell you how many parts to expect, but I don’t really know. What I can tell you is that this is the first Filling In about a real live project: my wife and I are building ourselves a house at 37 Eagle Street in Corn Hill.
So what gives? Why a house, you say? Well, I’ve always dreamed of building myself a house, and if you haven’t noticed from previous columns, I’m very much interested in developing Rochester. If that’s not a fortuitous intersection of desires, I don’t know what is…
How did this all happen?
Well, back in 2009, a small piece of land in a neighborhood we love, Corn Hill (SURPRISE!), came on the market. My wife and I decided to play the long game and pull the trigger. We made a cash offer of $7,500 on September 29th, 2009. If you’re doing the math, this is not cheap acreage (the lot is 1/10th of an acre on a good day at 41’x100’). Even so, it seemed like a steal to us.
After a variety of small delays, we closed on the property on January 6th, 2010. So yes, even cash offers can take some time to make happen! In any event, we certainly weren’t in a position to start planning, building, or anything else at the time, so the top priority became waiting. At least we were waiting until April 2010, when we realized we had to find someone to mow the property for us. Maintenance, even with nothing there (maybe especially with nothing there) is a consideration we won’t overlook again.
Speaking of considerations, there are also taxes on vacant land. One might even argue there should be more taxes on vacant land to promote less vacancy – but that will be a separate argument for a separate column.
Over the past four years, between mowing and taxes, we’ve spent about $800 a year. If you’re keeping track, we’re $10,000 down and still don’t have somewhere to live. Nevertheless, here we are, in 2014, and we are furiously trying to find an architect. Our timeline is to have something to move into in the next three years.
In addition to picking an architect and designing the house, we will need Preservation Board and Zoning Board approvals (hope to see all of you at the hearings – preferably in support). We will also need to pick a contractor, get a loan from a bank, and start digging. There’s so much to do, even if we have time.
What are we hoping to build?
Well, other than trying to build 3 units, we don’t really know yet. My fantasy home, if you can call it that, would be this : classic foursquare in the front, and glassy/modern in the back. Clearly this house is too large for the land, but you can see how a shortened version could work.
The basic site layout we’ve been shopping around is shown below, but even it may be subject to change…
What if I want to know
even more, you ask?
For that, I will be blogging about the process on a day-to-day basis over at 37 Eagle Street , but the columns here will continue to cover major milestones throughout the project.
Come back soon for Part 2, which will be about selecting an architect. In the meantime, if you have any questions or any ideas for what we might want to think about, I would be happy to hear them. As car salesmen say, no reasonable offer will be refused!
Tags: Corn Hill, Eagle Street, Filling In, Matthew Denker, real-estate, Rochester, Rochester NY, urban development
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