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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

narrated video of new listing

The narrated video of 4157 Hastings Newville Rd is up now at
Another virtual tour (no narration but higher resolution) is at

Monday, July 23, 2007

new listing

Just listed: my favorite house in the county. It was built by artist/builder Ken Arthur in 1978, on 3.22 acres about 3 miles this side of Malabar Farm on Hastings-Newville Road. Ken sold it in 2001, and it's offered by the current owners at $235,000. The house is timber framed with reclaimed, hand-hewn posts and beams. High R-value insulated. Exterior is board and batten cedar. A large barn with loft provides studio/workshop space. Ken's art is based on "found" objects and this house reflects eco-friendly house ... a combination of energy-conserving design, and reclaimed energy in its construction.
When Ken built his latest house and moved, he of course took most of his collections that filled the house, outbuildings, and landscape including the boulder collection that once lined the driveway. But vestiges of the collection remain, in structural elements and adornments of found objects and recycled building parts from the the clay chimney pots, Victorian gingerbread brackets, implement parts hanging in trees, and stones of all kinds. You'll see what I mean when you take the video's not going to be up until tomorrow at the earliest, but I'll post a link when it's ready.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

real age

Here's one of several interesting calculators at . A friend sent me a link to the "world clock" but it was too wide to fit the blog, so you get the real age calculator instead.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

upcoming events at appleseed

Saturday, July 28, is the third annual Praise in the Hills concert at the outdoor amphitheater south of Mifflin. If the Gold City Quartet, and Gospel Harmony Boys aren't your cup of tea, maybe you'd enjoy the Bluegrass Festival (second year for this event) on Saturday, Aug. 11. Both events are in the evening at 7 p.m. with gates opening at 4:30.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

disciplinary architecture

I've been trying to convince the city administration to install a short iron railing on top of the streetscape planters to discourage sitting, an idea that has been brought up in the past and rejected because of cost. In researching other, cheaper ways to discourage sitters I've discovered that there's a name for this type of architecture; defensive architecture if you're seeing it in a positive light ,or disciplinary architecture if your point of view is somewhat more negative about the concept. The city of Tokyo has taken this to the extreme of creating park benches that are unsittable for any extended length of time, and strategically designed "art" that takes over public spaces previously occupied by homeless.
I'm not about to apologize for advocating some reasonable measures in the case of these planters. They were installed as part of a failed effort in the 1980s to try to make the downtown look like the shopping malls that had drawn business to the suburbs. Their failure was compounded by the lost on-street parking spaces and the damage created to the downtown pedestrian-friendliness by the large parking lot separating the square from the North Main area and the even more ill-concieved parking garage (now gone). The "streetscape" was paid for by assessments on property owners. It failed miserably while preservation of old buildings north of Fourth Street has succeeded, beyond the streetscape's boundaries, yet the city administration resists any removal or modification. Businesses within the Central Park Historic District manage to cope "in spite of" the streetscape and the lost "look and feel" of a traditional downtown (which shopping areas like Easton Center in Columbus try to emulate). Here on the west side of the Square, the negative impact of the streetscape is most intense with lost parking, lost loading and unloading access, and lost traditional cityscape.
The smoker/idlers can remain standing as far as I'm concerned or walk across the street to the park where there are real benches and grass to sit on. If the planters can't be removed, at least they shouldn't serve a function that drives business away.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

how much to offer

I've posted a page (link here) analyzing some sold statistics of bank-owned properties to help buyers understand what kind of offers are being accepted in the $50,000 + price range (Mansfield is in one of the lowest priced real estate markets in the country FYI to anyone reading this from elsewhere. Median price of homes selling here today is around $94,ooo, down from about $100,000 a year ago).
In lower price ranges the percentage spread between sold price and listed price broadens considerably, but in the 50,000+ range the average sold price is hitting about 95% or more of asking price, with very very few exceptions. Adding to the rarity of low sold-to-listed ratios is the fact that some of the lowest ratio transactions are a result of factors that aren't revealed in the sold statistics, like major defects discovered during inspections, rather than the result of low-ball negotiation strategies.

Friday, July 6, 2007

planter sitters, another update

Officer Shay clears the planter sitters on his foot patrols for a few hours in the middle of the day. The habitual idlers scatter for a while and come back for the rest of the afternoon and evening. He ought to at least arrest the guy in the foreground for the pants he's wearing!

Monday, July 2, 2007

septic rules repealed

The governor signed the budget bill without striking the provision to repeal the septic system rules that went into effect Jan. 1. The repeal will last two years while they are reformulated, and in the meantime we will revert to the way things were done in the past. I haven't been entirely in favor of this repeal even though I'm a Realtor and the OAR was backing it. I haven't heard of any local horror stories under the new rules, but I guess some counties took a stricter approach. This divergence from county to county was one of the things the new rules were supposed to alleviate, so if they hadn't solved that problem I suppose it is best to start over.


More complaining about streetscape and planters:
  • The block and a half between 2nd Street and N. Park Street on Main has no parking, where originally there was parking on both sides of the street. This includes the Richland Bank and Mechanic's blocks.
  • The City has been enforcing a ban on delivery vehicles using the streetscape for loading and unloading. In particular the Service Safety director has accused delivery vehicles of causing damage by creating potholes in the brick which the city has to repair.
  • There is no turnoff area or loading zone to service the businesses on these blocks, and recent discussions about parking and such are just a repeat of discussions I've heard for the last four years. The city feels (per Chief Messer's statement at the last parking meeting) that because the merchants unanimously favored the streetscape in 1981, they should have to live with it (26 years later). Despite the fact that pedestrian malls and streetscapes were dismal failures in cities all over the country, and that many cities have removed them and restored the mix of sidewalks, curbs, parking spaces and streets.
Anyway, I thought it was interesting to see that a city vehicle loaded with water for the planters was parked on the streetscape, and thought I'd post a picture here for reference since our business's delivery and maintenance vehicles are being accused of harming the brick paving. Of course it makes sense to use the brick area instead of blocking a lane of traffic. That's why it's happening even with city vehicles.