Ghost of Midnight

… about neighbors, community and Front Porch Forum

$500M to destroy ideal Neighborhood

Posted on Wednesday, January 3, 2007 by 1 comment

So, what’s a great sense of community worth to you? Tom Byrne bought his home two years ago for $150,000 and found that he had landed in an ideal community. Now he’s being offered $1M. His answer? No. “You just can’t buy a way of life. This is my home.”
Brian Skoloff reported for AP today about Briny Breezes, Florida:

The owners of nearly 500 mobile homes in one of the last waterfront trailer-park towns in South Florida stand to become instant millionaires if they agree to sell to a developer. But some are holding out, saying there are things more important than money.

The Briny Breezes brochure calls it a “self-governed mobile home community of kindred souls.” Residents of the Palm Beach County town cruise the narrow streets on golf carts, passing palm trees and tiny, neatly manicured yards. They wave to each other and chat about the next neighborhood outing — water aerobics at the community pool, shuffleboard near the clubhouse, bowling night.

A developer has plans for high-end condos and more and wants to buy the whole place for $510M.

John and Gay Sideris, retired teachers from New York who bought their home in 2001, are conflicted. “It will be good for us because we’ll be able to help our family, but this is an amazing place to live. You know all your neighbors. You can walk your dog in your pajamas,” said Gay Sideris, 70.

“If you sneeze, a neighbor hands you a napkin,” added John Sideris, 71.

The couple paid just $155,000 for their home and now stand to make close to $1.5 million. “We’ve been living a beautiful life,” John Sideris said, sitting in a chair, staring out his window at his boat tied up to a dock just feet away. Asked how he would vote, he crossed his arms and breathed a heavy sigh. “The money is great, but you can’t get another place like this to live,” he said. “It’s like Club Med.”

Our Five Sisters neighborhood in Burlington has been recognized nationally for its great sense of community, but, unless global warming really gets rolling and Vermont becomes oceanside property, we are not likely to face such a dilemma. However, this high degree of neighborliness has driven up property values here by most estimates.

So, how much of a premium would you pay to live in a neighborhood bursting with a strong community vibe? And once you have it, what would be your selling price? Ten times what you paid?

Posted in: Burlington, Community Building

One comment

  1. Michael says:

    Well… the residents of Briny Breezes voted to sell in a landslide. The AP wrote a follow-up piece recently.

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