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Lot'o Memories

posted by janice on Friday June 21st 3:00pm

My husband and I are soon to purchase the lot next door. This is a testament to our patience and dumb luck.


When we first looked for houses, we wanted a large lot, but found this to be out of our reach.We bought a lot in the city, next door to an apartment house which had also just changed hands.


At first it was acceptable. We had some very quiet and stable neighbors (well, quiet anyway). But as the apartments were vacated the new landlord (who lived in another town) didn't seem too picky about the tenants he replaced them with.Gradually the property's appearance and went down hill and the volume of the neighobrhood went up.


We had partying at night, fights in the wee hours, and general mayhem during the day. This phase lasted about 3 years. It was worrying, but in retrospect this was the darkness before the dawn. The property fell into such disrepair that when speaking to the tenants one day they began mentioning the fact that they were lacking such things as proper heating. We told them that they could anonymously let the code enforcement people know about this. Once code enforcement got in there, it became appearent the entire property needed to be vacated.


No tenants is not the worst thing that can happen to a property next door. It was quiet after all.

It then went on sale and stayed there for about 2 years. And except for the time a homeless guy moved in and started a fire on top of the kitchen stove, things were tolerable.


Then one more brave soul got the real estate bug and bought the property cheap. She was from Long Island. NY. She was going to make a killing in the real estate boom. But the boom had not gone up, but had instead lowered itself on our town.

She did fix the heating problem. And she moved in new tenants. These were the most difficult tenants of  all, not because of anything they did necessarily, but because they were relatives of the landlord. She trusted them. And when things started going wrong, she was inclined to ignore. When I saw them trashing a stairwell and breaking some windows I let her know. She accused me of harassing them, so I stopped calling her. 


Living out of town made it even easier to ignore things. She hired random contractors that started a number of projects but finished none of them. Partially-sided, with a half-fixed porch, and a trashed interior, her relatives got tired of living there and found other accommodations. The property was once again vacant.


For the next 6 years we saw buyers come and go but nobody wanted to take on a large Victorian cut into 3 apartments, with no driveway, and not much yard.

We began to consider it ours. When the people behind it threw their lawn debris over the fence, We threw it back. When the tenants in the apartment next door dragged futons into the bushes, we dragged them back. I proactively raked more of it than I used to, instead of waiting for the leaves to blow over into my yard as I had in the past. I picked up twigs and branches. 


The very last tenants were the squirrels and the stray cats. Since they were unlikely to report the poor conditions to the city, we did it for them. We wrote letters. made phone calls, and were generally bigger pests than the squirrels and the stray cats. You have to do a lot of leg work if you want the lot next door.


Finally the city tore it down this spring. Many people told us it was a shame, that it would make a "hole" in the street. None of those people offered to fill the hole themselves though. Sometimes a property that was once useful just doesn't work anymore. The population in our town is declining and not all of the buildings that were once valued will be anymore. Their existence shouldn't make the rest of the neighborhood sick.


I like to think that it looks better without an disintegrating hulk of a building that is littered with discarded furniture and Pennysavers, (Why can't these delivery people figure out that nobody lives there?). Soon we will purchase it and I will plant flowers, and fruit trees, and I will have the big yard I had always dreamed of.

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