This information was given to city council at the September 19, 2017 meeting. It reflects my concerns on the impact that rapid development has had in Chesapeake on existing neighborhoods and sites specific examples that I compiled in my research. It is essentially the speech that resulted in people approaching me and asking me to run for Mayor.
Dear City Council Members:
Why the Next Great American Cities Aren’t What You Think
I encourage you to Google and read some of Joel Kotkins articles. He is a Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University in Orange, CA and executive director of the Houston based Center for Opportunity Urbanism.
In particular his article entitled “Houston Rising – Why the Next Great American Cities Aren’t What You Think”. “America’s urban landscape is changing, but in ways not always predicted or much admired by our media, planners, and pundits.”
“There’s a whole industry led by the likes of Harvard’s Ed Glaeser, my occasional sparring partner Richard Florida and developer-funded groups like CEOs for Cities, who advocate for old-style, high-density cities, and insist that they represent the inevitable future.”
“But the numbers tell a different story: the most rapid urban growth is occurring outside of the great, dense, highly developed and vastly expensive old American metropolises.” These highly densely populated developments are out dated models from when the majority of the population did not have vehicles.
When buyers were polled in recent survey published by Wakefield Research as to whether they wanted a bigger house or a bigger yard, the answer was a bigger yard. “Larger yard space means extra “breathing room” from neighbors – say is the most important exterior feature of a home, beating other outdoor elements such as siding, driveway style, exterior paint color and roofing finish.”
“The growth in STEM—or science-technology-engineering and mathematics-related—employment in Houston, Raleigh, Nashville, Austin, and Las Vegas surpassed that in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, or New York. One reason: most STEM jobs are not found in fashionable fields like designing social media or videogames but in more prosaic activities tied to medicine, manufacturing, agriculture and (horror of horrors) natural resource extraction, including fossil fuel energy. “
“Finally, they will not become highly dense, apartment cities — as developers and planners insist they “should.” Instead the aspirational regions are likely to remain dominated by a suburbanized form characterized by car dependency, dispersion of job centers, and single-family homes.”
Chesapeake has LAND! We need to understand our market and what drives our growth. We need to spread out and develop responsibly! We only have one chance to do this right!
Dominion Corridor Study
I keep being told that The Confluence Project is in line with the Dominion Corridor Study goals. First there is an interesting quote about New Home Sales on page 23 that states “New home sales as a percentage of total sales has steadily declined since 2004 from 34% to 15%.” I am confused as to why we are approving and building so many developments then?
What I am really concerned about is that out of this 336 page report there is just one quote that discusses the foreclosures in our market. It is mentioned on page 22 and then again in exact verbatim again on page 156.
“The for-sale residential market is slowly recovering from the Great Recession. Home prices are up and inventory is down. The Hampton Roads region still has a large number of foreclosures to work through the system. However, all indicators point to a continued recovery, and long-term health in the for-sale market. For-sale housing also represents a strong short-term opportunity in the study area.”
I am deeply concerned about the inaccuracy of that statement from my perspective as an active participant in Chesapeake’s real estate market.
At the last meeting, I mentioned how we have FAILED 31 out of 200 home owners in Olde Mille Run due to numerous short sales and foreclosures in that neighborhood. Perhaps you are unaware of the short sales and foreclosures happening in Culpepper Landing?
Are you aware that 512 Robert Frost Road, which was the former MODEL HOME of our local Tidewater Builder Vintage Homes became a BANK OWNED FORECLOSURE?
Are you aware of the short sales and foreclosures in New Mill Landing, Dominion Lakes and Dominion Forest caused by the Veteran’s Bridge inadvertently becoming part of their view?
Berkshire Estates is located off of Hanbury Road in Chesapeake near Great Bridge High School. The earlier homes in the neighborhood were built in 1997. The later part of the neighborhood called Berkshire Forest was mostly completed by 2005. These are larger brick homes ranging from 3,000 to 6,000 SF.
It was a highly desirable neighborhood that continued to grow and increase in value until 2015. In 2015, three separate developments began construction sales and literally surround this neighborhood. The lots of the new construction communities of Hanbury Woods, Hanbury Manor, and Viridian Reserve abutted directly up to the property lines of the existing homes of Berkshire Estates destroying the sense of privacy these high-end homes once enjoyed.
Berkshire Estates Foreclosures
This picture is just part of the view from a once private backyard in Berkshire Estates.
I recently showed a few houses on Kingsbury Drive in this neighborhood and was honestly shocked about how many houses I could see standing the deck in the backyard. From one spot, I turned my head left to right and started counting houses. In a backyard that was once private and highly desirable, I counted 20 homes in my immediate view from one spot.
Berkshire Estates is a neighborhood that even handled the Hampton Road recession time period extremely well. There was one foreclosure in 2008, one foreclosure in 2009, one foreclosure in 2010, zero foreclosures in 2011, two foreclosures in 2012, zero foreclosures in 2013 and zero foreclosures in 2014.
However, in 2015 the property values were literally destroyed due to the extremely close proximity of the new construction homes. There were three foreclosures in 2015 and one in 2016. Properties that were assessed at $473,000 sold as low as $354,000, which is $119,000 below assessed value.
Since 2015, there are notes on the listings offering bonuses to agents who can bring a buyer for these houses. There are notes about selling the property below assessed value and what a deal it is. There are multiple cases of houses that are listed expire or are withdrawn and relisted under a new MLS number making it difficult to determine exactly how long these homes have been on the market. The average listing time on the market in Chesapeake has been between 61 – 64 days this summer.
I started to try and look through these listings to find the duplicate address to really determine how long these properties have been on the market because I genuinely thought that city council was unaware of the issue, but I think I was naïve in my thoughts. I do see that Vice Mayor West and his partner Paul Fuqua are aware of this issue as they have tried to list 1201 Kingbury Dr from October of 2014 through October of 2016. If it is taking over two years or 725 days to market these homes and they are still not selling, I think there is a major issue in how this city is approving developments.