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New tool for dealing with Teardowns

August 21, 2008

Sadly, New Jersey still ranks number one (#1) in the nation for the frequency of teardowns, the insidious phenomenon of older homes being demolished and replaced with much larger, out-of-scale new structures. The historic character of existing neighborhoods is dramatically altered and neighborhood livability declines as trees are removed, backyards are eliminated, and sunlight is blocked by towering new “McMansions” built up to the property lines. Economic and social diversity is diminished as huge new houses replace affordable homes. Preservation NJ highlighted this trend by naming “Teardowns” in our 2007 10 Most Endangered Historic Sites list, while NJN-TV’s recent program, Our Vanishing Past, depicted the out-of-control teardown trend in towns such as Wyckoff (Bergen County).

Now, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which has had a long and active interest in the teardown problem, has published an extensive online resource, Teardown Tools on the Web, which provides an easy-to-share, user-friendly, one-stop-shop highlighting approximately 30 tools and more than 300 examples of best practices being used around the country. It’s very interactive and will be a terrific tool for preservationists, community and neighborhood leaders, planners and elected officials. Go to the Trust’s Teardowns website and scroll down to “Resources” to find the .pdf link to the Tools.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Peter Primavera permalink
    November 26, 2008 7:21 pm

    1. The NYT did not report that NJ is #1 in teardowns based on any research, they cited the NTHP. Where did NTHP get the facts to rate us the infamous #1? Per Capita or total? Prove it.

    2. If we are #1 in that sad category, aren’t we also the most densely populated state, so where is the news and surprise in that. Did it occur to NTHP to adjust or balance their “statistics” for the number of houses by state, or the simple fact that we are in the middle of the NY-Phila megalopolis and maybe that could explain much of it. We have been recession-proof since 1991-92

    3. Who is doing anything about it. Most towns want the higher rateables, this is NJ after all (home-rule and all the political insanity that goes with it), and most only give lip service to the preseration issue. Has anyone attended a planing board lately and actually listened? Every application is reviewed based in what the project will cost the town, or whether it will bring kids to the schools (God-Forbid!), with total disregard to regional planning, neighbors or much anything else.

    3. there were two other articles in the NY Times in the last three weeks on the issue, why weren’t they cited. See Nov 7 in Real Estate Section

    4. I have been debating with the editor of the “so called NJ Section” all week about how poorly researched most of these articles were, and how the NJ Section has become a shadow of its former self. Buy the NYT if you want a $15,000 watch, the sections are all advertizing, with some essays by stringers thrown in to look like news.

    5. the troubling thing is that the articles try to convey that a teardown is a teardown is a teardown. Deal and Elberon vs. Montclair vs. Newark is really apples and oranges. The issue is maintaining fabric and community, particularly in the urban areas.

    5. If the trend is slowing it surely is not because of anything the preservation community is doing about it, HELLO! it’s because the entire housing market just imploded and wall street is not giving 7 figure bonuses. Ask who is building most of the McMansions in Summit, Mendham, and other commutable towns.

    6. If we are supposed to be concerned about Smart Growth (It is two words, and we should be) where is the interest and press about this tear-down phenomena happening in urban areas. The wealthy burbs are fighting poperty owner restrictions most of time. What a mistake on their part, but we need to protect those who need us the most, the cities.
    7. McCain got 46% of the popular vote, and his property rights buddies did pretty well in NJ too. Look at the district maps. Hey NJ, you get what you vote for.
    8. PNJ decided to feature the big bad developer in their headline story as if he was the culprit. Who is buying what they are selling? That’s just as dumb as blaming detroit for building SUVs, who bought them? What should be your focus? Education, not whining and lame attacks on one of the biggest businesses and employers in NJ who is simply following basic market principles of demand under the state’s Municpal Land Use Law. Who built your house?

    9. The Bloustein School is talking about a population growth in the next 10 years of 1,000,000 in NJ. We need to think where they will go. I’m betting they won’t be in Tewksbury, or Colts Neck. So where should we spend our resources and attention?

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  1. Is NJ still the teardown capital in this economy? « PreserveNJ

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