Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Home Sweet Homes

The real estate bubble is still in big trouble, and there certainly will be additional foreclosure actions against improvident developers. Yet, not all the local housing news is depressing. During the second week of July, commercial and residential building permits issued in Fayetteville totaled $4,242,137. That compares with only $1,252,648 in Rogers and $1,218,062 in Springdale. So much for that constant "business unfriendly" refrain from the local Cowbirds.

Additional good news for Fayetteville is the type of innovative housing and construction options that are happening. Last week the Fayetteville Planning Commission
unanimously recommended City Council approval of the Habitat for Humanity Porchescapes project of 43 attached and detached homes, described as "a potential jewel for the city with truly attainable housing that can be afforded by the service work force." Thanks to the work of Aaron Gabriel and his students from the UA Community Design Center, the project is also an example of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design — Neighborhood Development and a demonstration project for Low Impact Development for the Environmental Protection Agency.

Then there was the inspirational example set by
Jonathan Story, who has a long personal history of renovating old homes and supporting preservation projects. He moved and restored the 1906 Mary Clancy House to save it from the bulldozers of Central United Methodist Church, and he has contributed to the ongoing fund-raising effort to restore the historic St. James United Methodist Church on Willow Avenue.

These economically, environmentally, socially, and historically significant projects reflect the spirit of Fayetteville and provide a unique vision that bridges its past and future. Other developers and their financial institutions might consider that in the present.

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