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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Modern ruins



Florida has always been a boom and bust state. I've been wintering down here long enough to see a couple of cycles. There are a lot of abandoned buildings and even whole developments are weedy and falling apart.

After 2008 it became clear that there was an awful lot of speculative building. Projects were stopped in various stages of construction. Perfectly fine buildings were never occupied. There were whole Florida counties that looked like they were hit with a zombie apocalypse.

Things have picked up again in parts of Florida. Here's the thing that bugs me. Do they rehabilitate the old developments? Nope. They clear land and build whole new ones, sometimes right next to the abandoned buildings.

I'm not sure why they do that, but I've got a couple of ideas. One thought is that the buildings were so shabbily constructed that it's cheaper to build new crappy buildings. Another idea is that the banks could be keeping those buildings on their books at full evaluation. Writing them all off would look bad on the bottom line.

There are areas in Florida where you can observe the remains of several boom and bust cycles. Some are just old foundation slaps. Others have some walls standing still. There are houses totally covered in vines and moss. To me, they are monuments to the more absurd elements of capitalism.

Other states are not immune to the instant ruins phenomena, but Florida is a special case. Down here it's a pro sport.

-Sixbears

14 comments:

  1. when we lived in fla decades ago, people were stuck with huge mortgages on new good looking houses that were incredibly shoddily constructed.
    inspectors had been bribed and the builders were fly by night, went out of business and reopened with different names and addresses,
    two by fours every 24 inches or wider instead of standard 12 inches, in a state famous for hurricane winds.
    the duped buyers had no recourse.
    hope there has been improvement in the intervening years.

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    1. Not that I can see. I've watched a few places around here go up and it's as shoddy as ever.

      There have been some class actions against some of these developers -the ones who haven't disappeared completely.

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  2. There is a similar phenomenon here. Before the big bust in 2008, second homes in the mountains was all the rage for the Atlanta crowd. Then when everybody lost their shirts, the homes went back to the banks. The banks didn't spend a dime on maintaining them, so now they are just going back to the forest. There are lots of places where these houses are just falling apart, and are now past the stage of viable repair. There used to be a show on tv called "After People" and I swear I am reminded of it when I see these ruins.

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    1. My house in a "recreational destination" lost almost half its paper value. At least the ones around me are still selling so they aren't abandoned.

      Fortunately for me, I never borrowed all that much on it, don't plan to sell, so paper value means nothing.

      I've a cousin and one of my daughters who've bought the abandoned houses next door to them. Now my cousin has a whole house as a man cave. Opened up the first floor and put in a professional grade pool table. My daughter want's to avoid getting bad neighbors. They are fixing it up as a rental.

      While houses sit empty, decent rentals are hard to come by.

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  3. I can point you to a Mini Mall that was built here in Vancouver WA in 2008 that has never had a tenant in it.

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    1. Looks like the problem is pretty wide spread.

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  4. Much the same down here in south Texas. People building them ran out of money. Mexico has provided much business down here so we had some protection from 2008 fallout.

    We used to be a winter crop agricultural area. Citrus as well as vegetables grown all over. A hard freeze in 1982 and another in 1989 killed off a lot of the groves, and the farmers decided starting over wasn't worth it. Urban sprawl is the result - I don't recognize the place.

    How many damn Targets / Wal-Marts is enough anyway ?

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    1. It's sad but regions have lost their local flavor. Now every strip development across the country looks the same. You don't know if you are in New York, Ohio, Florida or where ever. Sad and pretty ugly.

      Yesterday my lovely wife and I were reduced to eating at either one of the less bad chain food places or grim biker bars.

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  5. The are five homes on our road that people just walked away from and the banks don't even try to sell them. They just rot. The strip mall two towns over has lots of empty stores and a highway lot was just approved for a new one. Go figure.

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  6. Just think how much better it would be if those abandoned homes were opened up to house the homeless, instead of just standing there empty and rotting away.

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    1. I guess it's too logical and simple a solution.

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  7. dizzy dick,, i also think the strip malls would make good housing if properly updated.
    easy in and out for wheelchair bound people.

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    1. Did you know a lot of them are what they call "10 year buildings." That's as long as they are built to last. No wonder they look so shabby so quickly.

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