Sunday, May 18, 2008

No remorse for imitators, my crew be innovators

I had a great day yesterday doing Durham stuff. First came the dog walk, though ... because the dogs come first. And it makes me think of one thing I will definitely miss about Trinity Park: plenty of sidewalks. There are a few streets that lack sidewalks or only have them on one side, but compared to rest of Durham we have it good when it comes to not being forced to walk in the street. The alleys are nice for dog-walking, too..

In the afternoon, Lisa and I went on the Cleveland-Holloway home tour. Wherever we went people would introduce themselves, so we kept having to say "Hi, I'm Lisa" followed by "and I'm Lisa." It was a little bit funny at first but then it got tiresome.

The home tour itself was interesting--both inspiring and depressing at the same time. Inspiring because there are people who are putting a lot of work (and money) into the neighborhood. Depressing because I was able to see up close how decades of neglect have turned most of the housing there into unlivable (or nearly so) shitholes. Most of the homes on the tour were in some stage of renovation--mostly the early stages--and needed a lot of serious work. Over the years many had been hacked up or divided as rentals, so there were walls where they shouldn't be, drop ceilings and extra closets built into places that weren't originally bedrooms. There was also lots of damage from foundation or roof problems that had gone unfixed for years. One guy showed us a spot where a tree had been growing in the middle of the house when he first bought it.

I'll admit that some of my curiosity about the neighborhood was because I'll be needing a house myself at some point (possibly soon ... there's been encouraging news on the home sale front), and I was wondering if I should include the C-H neighborhood in my search. But from what I saw, pretty much everything available there needs way more work than I can put into a house ... unless I were to give up dog agility and anything else I like to do for a year or more while I put all of my energy into renovations. That just doesn't appeal to me. Also, because of my dog-training needs, I'm determined not to have a lot any smaller than my current one (.17 acre), and the lots in C-H are typically on the tiny side.

Decay and other issues aside, the neighborhood felt rather pleasant. The houses are close together and people were out on porches, and even the folks not involved with the home tour were friendly. Then again, it was a sunny Saturday afternoon and the tour meant there were a lot more people out walking the neighborhood streets on a typical day, so I don't know what the vibe is most of the time. The home tour people were all full of optimism and very upbeat about the 'hood's future, but then I talked to a guy who was visiting his mother in the neighborhood, and he had a different view: "This is a baaaaad neighborhood." He didn't mean bad as in good. But people say the same thing was true about Trinity Park 20 years ago.

In the evening I want to a Bulls game with my friend Marcia. I had a good time but I must say I like baseball when there's an actual game to watch. The Bulls took a lead in the first inning and were never in serious danger of losing it, so there wasn't really a lot of excitement (aside from a few home runs, a bat being slung into the stands and the Bulls' center fielder rescuing a fallen SpongeBob and tossing it back to its owner). Also, the only seats available were in the "Diamond View" section, and the early start time (5:00 pm) meant that we were looking into the setting sun the entire time (it dropped below the American Tobacco building just moments after the close of the ninth inning). Nonetheless, my dog training and trialing schedule won't be terribly booked up between Memorial Day and Labor Day, so I'll try to make it back out to the DBAP a few more times over the summer.


Valerie said...

I wonder if you have been looking at the foreclosures. A friend bought a foreclosure in a nice location in Durham for a great deal a few years back. They might need a little work, but it doesn't have to be unmanageable; his needed a new heat pump and some paint.

Lisa B. said...

The foreclosures are on my radar. Sadly, by the time a home makes it to the foreclosure process, people have often stoppped any upkeep, especially if it involves money. Some even trash the place as a way of getting back at the bank. But there are a few available in my price range that don't need much work at all, and they're on my list of possibilities.