Update: The listing was withdrawn October 25, 2019.
It’s often hard to know exactly what you’re seeing just from the for-sale listings of houses that need renovation. From the foundation to the roof, there’s no telling what trouble awaits until you get a thorough inspection. With that in mind, take a look at 3311 Oak Ridge Road in Summerfield.
Yikes. Nothing subtle about Issue No. 1. Aside from the nightmarish vegetation, though, this stately old place doesn’t look so bad. It was built in 1885 and has four bedrooms, three bathrooms and 2,148 square feet. The lot is 1.2 acres. The few rooms shown in the poor photos with the listing do suggest the house could use some work, though who knows what the rest of it looks like. It’s on the west side of Summerfield toward Oak Ridge.
At $165,000, the price comes out to $77 per square foot, which is toward the high end of the scale for a house that needs substantial renovation unless the electrical, plumbing, foundation, etc., are OK and you’re looking for a house to make your own in one of Guilford County’s more upscale little towns.
Update: The house sold for $415,000, its full asking price, on November 6, 2019.
The Paisley House, 409 Hillcrest Drive in Westerwood, may be oldest house in Greensboro that’s still a residence. It was listed for sale on October 4; the sellers accepted an offer on October 8. A quick deal like that isn’t uncommon in Westerwood, one of Greensboro’s most attractive neighborhoods, especially now when so few homes are for sale there. What is uncommon is that the house is so much older than the neighborhood. The Paisley House was built in 1820; Westerwood was developed about 100 years later.
The oldest-house claim is hard to prove, maybe impossible, but no one has suggested a reasonable alternative (as Benjamin Briggs explains here). It was built downtown (the address is unknown). The house was moved to Westerwood, possibly around 1931, the first year the Greensboro City Directory shows a residence at 409 Hillcrest. This undated photo from Preservation Greensboro appears to have been taken while the house was still downtown:
Today, the house is elegantly updated with 3 bedrooms, 2 1/2 bathrooms and 3,418 square feet. The price is $415,000, a relatively modest $121 per square foot. It has a finished basement and a detached two-car garage with a 12-by-24 room above it. There’s a porch off to the right side of the front. The back of the house has a deck along with a spacious yard (the lot is 0.34 acre).
Hillcrest is a quiet, out-of-the-way street toward the western end of the neighborhood. Oldest in town or not, the Paisley House is beautifully preserved and in a lovely setting, one of Westerwood’s real treasures.
Residents of Sedgefield report seeing crews from a demolition company at work in Adamsleigh, the renowned 30,000 square foot mansion in the golf course community. An article this week in the News & Record indicates that time may have run out for the fabulous house. Built in 1930, it stands with Graylyn in Winston-Salem and Hillside in Greensboro as one of the Piedmont’s grandest mansions. But its new owner wants to build a house, and Adamsleigh is in his way.
The new owner is Jason Harris, a member of the family that owns FurnitureLand South. The News & Record and others have tried to reach him to find out his plans, but he hasn’t been returning calls lately. It’s easy to see why. The home’s 13-acre lot would seem to provide plenty of room for a new house without tearing down a landmark. Adamsleigh is an irreplaceable piece of history for Sedgefield, for Greensboro and for the state. People who are doing great things usually want to talk about them.
Adamsleigh was built by High Point textile executive John Hampton Adams, one of the founders of Adams-Millis. It had been owned by his descendants since he died in 1935. Harris bought the property for $2.4 million in November 2018. The asking price was $3.895 million. It had been on the market for years.
“It’s not a home that I would want to live in,” Harris is quoted as saying in the News & Record. “It’s not fit for today’s lifestyle.”
Harris has a couple arguments for reducing the historic home to rubble, documented from earlier conversations. One is, basically, that the house was for sale for years and no one bought it so why not tear it down? Also, renovating it would be a monumental and expensive undertaking. It has no air conditioning, there’s asbestos in it, and it’s 30,000 square feet. And, of course, there’s “today’s lifestyle.” Such challenges have been overcome in the restoration of many historic homes, but almost anything can seem impossible to a man who doesn’t want to do it.
All of this begs the question of why Harris bought Adamsleigh. His brother lives next door, but I wonder if it has more to do with the small fortune Harris could gain from redeveloping 13 acres in the heart of Sedgefield. Adamsleigh has the Sedgefield golf course behind it and across the street. It’s one of the oldest and most prestigious golf course communities in the state.
The bigger the houses are and the more space there is between them, the less there is of a feeling of community. The more people lecture about “private property rights,” the less you hear about responsibility. The more money talks, the poorer the community is, even one as rich as Sedgefield.
The Adamsleigh Designer Showhouse
In 2013, the Junior League of Greensboro and Traditional Home magazine staged a designer showhouse. “Adamsleigh—a splendid Tudor-style manor house built in 1930 on grounds replete with tennis courts, a caretaker’s cottage, a pond, and two pools—set the style bar high; it challenged a mix of local, regional, and national designers to stretch, to dream big,” the magazine said. The event showed what people with vision and talented designers could do with the home. Traditional Home photos by John Bessler and Peter Rymwid.
Two interesting old houses turned up for sale in the past couple of weeks with a disappointing element in common: Both owners appear more interested in selling to developers than to homeowners. Each of the properties has a bit of acreage, and both are in areas that have been developed with subdivisions in the past few decades. Losing them would eliminate pieces of Greensboro’s historic character from once-outlying neighborhoods where little of that quality remains.
4201 Pineneedle Drive
4201 Pineneedle Drive was built in 1903 in what is now the Summit Hills neighborhood between Summit Avenue and U.S. 29 in northeast Greensboro. It’s an attractive little farmhouse with two bedrooms, one bathroom and 1,416 square feet. The listing provides no pictures of the interior and only one of the exterior. One of the few significant details provided: It has no heating or air conditioning systems.
The house sits on 3.76 acres. The price is $169,900, which comes to $120 per square foot or a little over $45,000 per acre. I don’t know how that compares to prevailing land prices in northeast Greensboro (tax appraisal on the land is $63,000 total, for what that’s worth), but $120 per square foot sounds high for a house in that area with no HVAC.
The description of the property focuses on the land: “Beautiful and serene land located on the edge of the city. House is sold AS IS and will not qualify for FHA/VA loans. Would be a great property to develop.” Beautiful and serene now, at least. The 3.76-acre lot may make 4201 Pineneedle an attractive development prospect in an area that looks like this (the property is highlighted; click for a larger view):
The lot is in the middle of what was a 17-acre tract owned by William Archie Smith, who died in 1949. He passed it on to his eldest son, John, who left it to his six surviving siblings in 1982. They divided it into 18 lots. One of John’s sisters, Nora Mae Smith Maness, bought four of the lots for $5,500 in 1982 (numbers 1, 1A, 16 and 16A on the plat). That property is now 4201 Pineneedle Drive. Family members still own 10 of the other 14 lots.
Nora Mae died in 2010 at the age of 88 (having long outlived her two husbands by 63 and 39 years, respectively). Now the property is being sold by her estate. Her son, who may not have much of a sentimental attachment to the old homestead, owns a house right across the street. Beyond the lack of HVAC, who knows what the condition of the house is. All you can say for sure is that it’s endangered.
5204 Michaux Road
5204 Michaux Road is far across Greensboro, near the corner of Battleground Avenue and Old Battleground Road. The house sits nicely off the street on 2.34 acres (per county property records). It was built in 1925. It has two bedrooms, two bathrooms and 1,346 square feet. The exterior is attractive, with a stone foundation, distinctly different from the subdivision houses around it. The price is $175,000, $130 per square foot.
Again, the only photo with the listing is an exterior shot. The narrative description, provided here in full, doesn’t give a buyer much to go on: “This property is sold AS IS.” It does have heat and air conditioning, though.
The property was listed Thursday, September 5, and the owner accepted an offer over the weekend.
It’s in a more densely developed area than Summit Hills. The house is surrounded on three sides by subdivisions, although the two-acre-plus lot provides good privacy. A large assisted-living facility is right across the street (nicely screened with landscaping). The adjacent shopping center includes a Harris Teeter, Pizza Hut, Starbucks and more.
The lot for 5204 Michaux was the back corner of the James Davis farm, which was seven miles north of Greensboro when it was subdivided in 1925. The plat for the 39-acre farm shows an asphalt highway running along the east side; presumably, that’s now Battleground Avenue. The shopping center, assisted-living home and much of the neighboring subdivision were all part of the farm (5204 Michaux is Lot 25). The Davis homestead is long gone; it stood on five acres at the corner of Battleground and Old Battleground. 5204 Michaux appears to be the last trace of the past in the area.
Every year, Preservation Greensboro creates a “Watch List” of local historic homes and buildings that are in danger of being destroyed. Some are saved, like the remarkable Shaw House at 111 Arden Place, rescued last year by new owners who are renovating the one-time hunting lodge in the College Park neighborhood. Others aren’t, like the Art Deco Showfety Building, which was sacrificed for construction of a parking deck.
This year’s list includes several iconic homes along with the Pilot Life office complex in Sedgefield, the Southern Railway Passenger Depot on South Elm Street, and one of the few Egyptian Revival office buildings in the state.
The most notable property on the list may be Adamsleigh, the colossal 15,000 square foot mansion in Sedgefield. It was bought last year by Jason Harris, an owner of Furnitureland South. “Rumors swirl on whether the new owner will focus on a preservation strategy for the property or destruction of the manor,” Benjamin Briggs of Preservation Greensboro writes.
Here are some of the other historic homes on the list:
East Greensboro’s rich collection of Mid-Century Modern homes: “Though still remarkably intact, these resources are fragile and endangered because their importance is not widely known and celebrated in Greensboro.” Preservation Greensboro and the City of Greensboro are working on that.
The three structures on the Southside Triangle Block: “As the neighborhood surrounding these important buildings has been redeveloped, lack of investment in the structures has resulted in severe deterioration.”
Nelson Station, 903 Bluford Street, an important early example of N.C. A&T faculty housing and one of the oldest African American historic sites in Greensboro: “As neighborhood land values continue to decline, A&T is taking the opportunity to expand its campus north across the street. The current campus master plan calls for the streetscape to be destroyed and replaced with green space.”
The entire list is worth reading: Preservation Greensboro’s 2019 Watch List
The Lydia and James Cartland House is one of the earliest in Lindley Park. Built in 1905 across the street from its present location, the house crossed the street sometime in its first 20 years. Today, it’s nicely restored and a beautiful example of its time period and its neighborhood.
The Cartland House has four bedrooms and two baths. It’s unusually large for Lindley Park, 3,142 square feet. The price, too, is outsized for the neighborhood at $369,900; by my count, only five pre-WWII Lindley Park houses have sold in the $300,000’s in the past two and a half years, out of 43 total. But the price works out to a modest $117 per square foot, way at the low end of the range for the neighborhood. The lot also is larger than average, 0.36 acre.
“The two-story frame house is typical of Greensboro residences of the first decade of the twentieth century,” Benjamin Briggs of Preservation Greensboro writes. “Simply detailed, the Late Victorian form is characterized by a hipped roofline and a projecting hipped wing. This wing, with exterior access, might have served as an office. Decorative features are staid, including a deep cornice with boxed eaves, nine over nine windows, and a half-width front porch. Interior details curiously hint at an early construction date, such as capped door and window trim, a square stair newel post, and six-panel doors.”
Scott Avenue is a quiet side street, but the house is just a couple blocks from the Walker and Elam intersection, home of Bestway grocery and various restaurants, bars and other contributors to Greensboro’s quality of life.
207 North Park Drive is a Fisher Park classic, a Craftsman bungalow with beautiful stone columns. Built in 1912, it overlooks the park on one of the neighborhood’s finest streets. It sold last week for $398,900, its full asking price and a pretty impressive number considering it’s not quite 2,000 square feet. That comes out to $206 per square foot, up near the top of the range for the neighborhood and way above what many Fisher Park houses have sold for recently. The house was on the market just over a week before an offer was accepted.
Even at that price, though, the seller took a loss. They bought the house for $399,750, and that was 12 long years ago. It’s not a big loss, less than $1,000 (but don’t forget the real estate agents’ commission, likely 6 percent — almost $24,000). Still, how could such a fine house in Fisher Park fail to appreciate in 12 years? The answer: The house was bought in September 2007, only a year before real estate crashed. The pre-catastrophe market was just about at its peak.
But that was so long ago, right? Hasn’t the market recovered? Overall, yes. “Prices across the U.S., which fell 33 percent during the recession, have rebounded and are now up more than 50 percent since hitting the bottom, according to CoreLogic, a global property analytics site.” (The Washington Post, October 4, 2018) That brings average prices back up around their 2008 levels or higher.
For any particular house, timing has much to do with the profitability of a sale. Homes bought 10 years before the crash had 10 years of appreciation before the bottom fell out. If they’re back to their pre-recession value, their owners can sell now and come out reasonably well. But houses bought just before the crash, even a couple years before, may have needed all this time just to get back to their previous sale price. Even in a neighborhood as popular as Fisher Park.
207 North Park had made it just about all the way back when it sold last week. Considering how quickly it sold, perhaps the seller could have hung a higher price on the place and at least have broken even. At the listed price, though, it was already near the top of the current market in Fisher Park. Sometimes when you’re selling a house, it’s more important just to get it sold than to hold out for the maximum possible price. Every additional mortgage payment takes a bite out of your profit margin.
For what it’s worth, 207 North Park isn’t the only historic home in the Triad to be caught lately in the lingering effects of the crash.
- Sold for $1.13 million on June 14, 2019
- Last previous sale: $1.37 million, June 2005
- Loss: $240,000, 18 percent
- Neighborhood: Buena Vista
- Sold for $493,000 on April 29, 2019
- Last previous sale: $600,000, February 2006
- Loss: $107,000, 18 percent
- Neighborhood: Emerywood
813 S. Church Street, Winston-Salem, built in 1824
The Philip Reich House
- Sold for $345,000 on April 24, 2019
- Last previous sale: $435,000, July 2008
- Loss: $90,000, 21 percent
- Neighborhood: Old Salem
Few architects have been as historically prominent in Greensboro and across the state as Harry Barton. For more than 20 years until his death in 1937, he designed several of the Greensboro’s most notable buildings, including the UNCG Auditorium, the Quad and others on the campus; the Guilford County Courthouse; the Cone Export and Commission Building; First Presbyterian Church and the Presbyterian Church of the Covenant; and World War Memorial Stadium. His home designs ranged from the elaborate Italian Renaissance style of the Sigmund Sternberger house at 710 Summit Avenue to the relatively simple Effie M. Anderson House at 303 S. Mendenhall Street.
When he designed his own home, he created a classic. 104 Kemp Road West is a Mediterranean mansion sitting on Benjamin Lake in Hamilton Lakes. Barton had it built in 1925. For the first time since 1976, the home is for sale. The listing price is $1.65 million.
It’s a spectacular house, 4,000 square feet of impeccable design and high craftsmanship. It has four bedrooms and four and a half bathrooms. The roof is Italian tile. The lot is 0.65 acre. Overlooking the lake is a separate gym with a steam shower and hot tub. The price comes out to $410 per square foot. On a square-foot basis it’s probably the most expensive historic home now available in Greensboro and one of the most expensive in the Triad. Why not?
There aren’t enough older homes for sale in Lindley Park and Fisher Park to go around. Since March 1, at least 20 classic homes in Greensboro have sold at a premium to their asking prices. Five have been in Lindley Park and three have been in Fisher Park. The other 12 have been scattered around town.
Houses in both neighborhoods have been selling fast. A total of nine pre-1940 Lindley Park houses have sold since March 1; six were on the market a week or less when their owners accepted offers. In Fisher Park, an amazing 13 classic houses have sold. Four owners accepted offers within a week and four more, within a month.
The pace is holding up, too, in Fisher Park, at least. There are seven pending sales in Fisher Park right now; three of the offers were accepted within a week of listing and two more were accepted within a month. The Lindley Park market is all but exhausted at the moment. Only one house has a pending sale; its owner accepted an offer the day it went up for sale. There are only two other older homes for sale in the neighborhood — one that’s been on the market for two weeks and a single-family home divided into two apartments, which has been on the market for six weeks. Demand has been slow for that type of property.
In many cases, of course, the premium is just a token amount. But anytime you get more than you’re asking, you’re doing awfully well. Among the other classic houses that have sold at prices above their asking prices:
- The College Hill and Dunleith historic districts have had one each. As in Fisher Park, the supply of houses for sale has been up compared to 2017, and many sales have come quickly, especially among the more expensive properties.
- Two have been classic Mid-Century Modern homes, one in Hamilton Lakes for $444,000 (plus-$5,000) and one in O.Henry Oaks for $95,000 (plus-$5,100).
- There has been one house in Guilford County outside Greensboro that sold at a premium, a restored 1902 farmhouse in Whitsett that went for an absurdly low $262,000 in a foreclosure sale (previous sale: $425,000). The asking price had been $259,900.
- Absent from the list of neighborhoods with classic houses selling at a premium: Irving Park and Sedgefield. Especially for the most expensive older homes in those highest-of-high-end neighborhoods, demand just isn’t there.
Overall, it’s a pattern much like what we saw last year: Strong demand for classic homes, even though the number of homes for sale in many older neighborhoods has been higher in 2018.
Some of the highlights among houses that have sold at a premium recently:
317 E. Hendrix Street, Fisher Park
- Sale price: $228,000
- Asking price: $199,900
- Days for sale before accepting an offer: 6
105 W. Hendrix Street, Fisher Park
- Sale price: $190,000
- Asking price: $185,000
- Days for sale before accepting an offer: 5
- Note: What is it about Hendrix Street?
128 Northridge Street, Lindley Park
- Sale price: $155,000
- Asking price: $152,000
- Days for sale before accepting offer: 1
- Note: And then right next door, there’s …
130 Northridge Street, Lindley Park
- Sale price: $186,000
- Asking price: $185,000
- Days for sale before accepting offer: 5
- Note: If you want to live on Northridge Street, get in line.
615 Percy Street, Dunleith
- Sale Price: $249,000
- Asking Price: $247,000
- Days for sale before accepting an offer: 2
- Note: Built in 1906
1504 Northfield Street, Westerwood
- Sale price: $280,000
- Asking price: $270,000
- Days for sale before accepting an offer: 3
- Note: For sale by owner
605 Kemp Road West, Hamilton Lakes
- Sale price: $444,000
- Asking price: $439,000
- Days for sale before accepting an offer: 3
- Note: It’s not for everyone, but Mid-Century Modern has an enduring appeal. And there aren’t that many of them in Greensboro and Guilford County.
1611 Longfellow, O.Henry Oaks
- Sale price: $95,000
- Asking price: $89,900
- Days for sale before accepting an offer: 7
- Note: Mid-Century Modern wasn’t just for the ritzy neighborhoods.
1502 Upland Street, Cone Mill
- Sale price: $90,500
- Asking price: $85,000
- Days for sale before accepting an offer: 2
- Note: Built and originally owned by Cone Mills
7204 Whitsett Park Road, Whitsett
- Sale price: $262,000
- Asking price: $259,900
- Days for sale before accepting an offer: 18
- Note: Built in 1902. This could be the bargain of the year — it sold for $425,000 in 2010. But this time it was a foreclosure sale.
107 S. Mendenhall Street, College Hill
- Sale price: $370,000
- Asking price: $369,900
- Days for sale before accepting an offer: 19
- Note: For sale by owner. OK, it’s only $100, but a hundred bucks is a hundred bucks.
Update: No one stepped up to take the house, so it was torn down.
From Benjamin Briggs of Preservation Greensboro:
The foursquare house at 429 North Cedar Street is available to someone who might want to move it. The structure has been relocated once before. It sits on a cinderblock foundation. Many original architectural features have been lost, but they can be re-created or re-imagined.
This would be a perfect opportunity for someone with an empty lot planning to build a new home or perhaps someone looking for an investment property. The house must be moved, and no supplementary grants have been identified to assist on relocation expenses or permits. Interested parties should be prepared to gather quotes/estimates to suit their budget and present a timeline by August 1 that includes removal of the house by September 1, 2018. Interested parties should contact Preservation Greensboro staff via email.
County property records show the house having four bedrooms and two bathrooms. It’s 2,347 square feet and was built in 1929. The tax appraisal of the house alone (without the land or outbuilding) is $68,900.
Update: The final upset bid of $252,000 was filed July 17; I think it was the 10th, but I could have missed one or two. The sale closed on July 28, 2018.
906 Olive Street is a nice little Fisher Park house. Built in 1938, it has four bedrooms, two bathrooms, 1,938 square feet. It has a smallish front porch, gray shingle siding and a couple trees in the front yard. It’s a little on the modest side for Fisher Park. There have been a few more or less similar houses for sale in the neighborhood recently. It’s in foreclosure, also like a few others recently. Nice but not especially remarkable.
Except: It went up for auction on June 6, and, three weeks later, the auction is still going on. A bid was accepted on the 6th, and that’s usually how these things end (if anyone bothers to bid at all). Under North Carolina law, though, for the next 10 days, anyone with enough money can come along and make an upset bid at least five percent above the previous bid. So far, six upset bids have been filed. Each bid resets the 10-day clock. The latest bid was on June 22, so this thing will drag on into July (weekend days do count in the 10 days, but if the 10th day falls on a weekend or holiday, the upset period is extended to the next business day).
It’s easy to see why the bidders are scrambling. 908 Olive was last sold in 2006 for $276,500. The would-be winning bid on June 6 was only $142,802, a terrific bargain for a nice little house in Fisher Park. A bargain too good to be true, as it turned out. The first upset bid was $150,000. The latest, by the original high bidder, is $191,467.50 ($99/square foot), still a very good price but not quite the steal it might have been.
If you’d like to take a shot at this one yourself, your bid will have to be at least $201,040.88, according to the court file. Roll on down to the Clerk of Court’s office (before anyone else does) with a certified check for five percent of your bid, and you’re in the game. If you’re successful, though, be ready to pay the other 95 percent within 30 days. The court doesn’t wait around for mortgage applications to be approved.
BB&T is readying Edgewood for sale. Crews have been trimming shrubs and undergrowth from the property this week, and some trees have been taken down or trimmed. And now a real estate agent’s sign has appeared at the curb of 111 Arden Place.
The stone mansion and 2.5-acre site in Sunset Hills date back to 1915. BB&T, apparently one of multiple lenders with money in the property, bought Edgewood in a foreclosure auction in January. The bank spent $770,000 to get it. Anyone who wants to save it is probably going to have to outbid developers who would tear the house down and squeeze in as many big, expensive new houses as they can. And in one of Greensboro’s most popular neighborhoods, no less. Once “For Sale” replaces “Coming Soon,” the outcome may not be far off.
Greensboro’s older neighborhoods are very popular. That’s easy to see from the prices their homes sell for and, in many cases, how quickly they sell. As part of its update of the city’s comprehensive plan, the Greensboro Planning Department commissioned a survey that at least partly tells why: A lot of people like walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods. That description that matches Fisher Park, College Hill, Lindley Park, Sunset Hills, the Asheboro Community, Glenwood and other older neighborhoods where stores, churches, parks, apartments, etc., exist amid the houses.
Background on the survey from Sue Schwartz, city planning director:
The National Association of Realtors conducts a biannual Community and Transportation Preference Survey in the 50 largest U.S. cities, most recently in 2017. Recently, the surveys have shown a strong shift favoring walkable, mixed-use communities. To see whether that’s true here, the Planning Department teamed with Nick Scarci of the Greater Greensboro Realtors Association and received a grant from NAR to conduct the same survey on the local level (methodology below). This is the first time the NAR has done a survey for an individual city, so way to go, Sue Schwartz.
Walkable Neighborhoods and Quality of Life
If you love colorful charts and graphs, click here to see the results (PDF). Some notable findings:
- In general, people in Greensboro are very satisfied with their quality of life. The vast majority (9 in 10) of residents are either very or somewhat satisfied, with nearly half of all residents saying they are very satisfied.
- These satisfaction numbers are higher than for Americans in the top 50 MSAs, especially when it comes to being very satisfied: 46 percent are very satisfied in Greensboro compared to 37 percent in metropolitan areas throughout the country.
- The more walkable the neighborhood, the more satisfied residents are with their quality of life (see chart above).
- Over half of Greensboro residents prefer homes in walkable neighborhoods with small yards.
- Three-quarters of Greensboro residents live in houses – attached or detached – compared to two-thirds in the top 50 MSAs.
[Editorial comment: Greensboro’s home-ownership rate of 50 percent is well below the national average of 63 percent, suggesting more renters in Greensboro than other cities rent houses rather than apartments. And that probably makes buying a less expensive or starter home here even more difficult than it tends to be anyway.]
- While Greensboro residents echo the national results in their top priorities, certain elements are much more important to people here.
- Two-thirds say sidewalks and places to take walks are very important in deciding where to live, compared to half of national respondents.
- Being close to highways and within a short commute to work is also very important to over half of Greensboro residents.
- Older Greensboro residents (Gen Xers and Boomers) are more likely to prefer homes with smaller yards and more walkable neighborhoods.
- Millennials are split in their preference between such neighborhoods and those with larger yards and more driving.
- Women and those without kids at home are more likely to prefer small yards in walkable neighborhoods. Men and those with kids at home are split.
- There are also a lot of good data about transportation, mass transit, etc., which is another matter entirely.
American Strategies, the firm that does the national survey, conducted Greensboro’s. It was done from November 13-20, 2017, and reached 410 adult residents of Greensboro, ages 18 or older. The city’s Planning Department will use the data in the update of Connections 2015, Greensboro’s comprehensive plan.
Information from attorney Craig Taylor, immediate past president of Preservation Greensboro:
“On Monday I spoke to a person in BB&T’s bank-owned properties group about 111 Arden Place. As I suspected, the house was involved in a complicated legal situation, and BB&T has been working to satisfy all the creditors who had lien rights on the house. Apparently that process is almost complete.
“In the next week or so, the property will be transferred into the inventory of the asset resolution group. This group will engage a local real estate agent and other professionals to inspect the property and determine a marketing plan. The BB&T representative said they are very aware of the high profile nature of this property and that they already have a significant list of BB&T clients who want to be notified when the house goes on the market. She was not in a position to comment on how they would market the property since the process has not fully begun.”
If you’re coming in late on this, Edgewood is a 5,200 square-foot stone mansion, built in 1915 on 2.26 acres in Sunset Hills. BB&T bought it in a foreclosure auction in January for $770,000. The tax value of the property is just over $1 million. In 1999, the last time it was sold before foreclosure last year, the price was $845,000. It apparently needs a lot of work.
If you’re interested in buying Edgewood, get ready to move fast.
From the Greensboro Housing Coalition:
Deteriorating neighborhoods and lack of affordable stable housing negatively impact education, economic development, and the quality of life we all want. About one in every four Greensboro households is struggling to have a place to live. Some are on the streets, some in homeless shelters. More are “staying” in crowded spaces with friends or relatives. Most of those struggling households that do have homes are paying more than a third of their meager incomes to rent places that sometimes make them sick.
Our annual housing summit builds momentum around the vision of safe affordable housing. We come together annually to educate and inspire. And we challenge each other to substantially increase housing options (policy changes and increased resources for repairing and building different kinds of apartments and houses), to support people accessing and maintaining housing (such as tenant education and rental assistance), and to promote collaboration among leadership. We all come together to transform community knowledge and attitudes to support affordable housing.
This year’s speakers:
- Gov. Parris Glendening, president of Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute and the Governors’ Institute on Community Design, and former governor of Maryland;
- Hershel Lipow, community relations expert in the Compliance and Community Affairs Department of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency; and
- Dr. Jeremy Bray, chair of the Department of Economics at the UNCG Bryan School of Business and Economics.
- The moderator will be Jeff Thigpen, Guilford County register of deeds.
The summit brings together the Greensboro Housing Coalition, City of Greensboro, HUD, Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro and other organizations.
Meet the Designers
Hillside Mansion, 301 Fisher Park Circle
Thursday, March 1, 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
The Julian Price House is almost all the way home on its long journey from being featured on “Hoarders” to becoming a Designer Showhouse for three weeks in April. Once threatened with destruction, historic Hillside will receive a luxurious makeover in March by 25 designers from New York, Dallas and other cities, including Greensboro.
You’re invited to celebrate this milestone, meet some of the designers and hear first-hand about their plans. The home will host a “Meet the Designers” event Thursday March 1, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Ticket sales will benefit Preservation Greensboro.
Tickets are $50. A limited number are still available. Click here to buy tickets and for more information.
Update March 12, 2018: The house was on the market for four days before an offer of $1.655 million was accepted. The sale closed March 12, 2018.
Joseph and Kathleen Bryan bought a brand-new home in Irving Park in 1935, and now it’s on the market for the first time in 83 years. The 6,000 square-foot house was listed today at $1.675 million.
Bryan left the home to the Joseph M. Bryan Foundation when he died in 1995. The foundation leased it to UNCG for use as the chancellor’s residence until the university recently bought the new guy a McMansion at 15 Clubview Court near the Starmount Forest Country Club.
The Bryan home sits on almost an acre of prime Irving Park real estate (the tax value of the land alone is $650,000). It has four bedrooms and five and a half bathrooms. To serve as the chancellor’s residence, the kitchen was renovated with entertaining in mind. A 20-by-27 foot great room and a 16-by-28 living room can hold quite a crowd, as can the large backyard patio. The wine cellar is pretty spacious as well. The property also includes a three-car garage.
The house was designed by Charles C. Hartmann, whose many Greensboro projects include about 20 homes, the Jefferson-Standard Building, the F.W. Woolworth store that now houses the International Civil Rights Museum and Dudley High School.
BB&T has bought Edgewood, the mansion and 2.26-acre property at 111 Arden Place. It paid $770,000 in an auction at the Guilford County Courthouse on Tuesday. Their plans for the property are unknown; their representative at the auction works for a law firm and didn’t know. I’ve asked the bank and hope to hear back soon.
Sunset Hills neighbors have said online that they believe restoring the house and property would require an immense investment beyond the purchase price. One neighbor expressed the opinion that the swimming pool is too deteriorated to be saved.
In any case, it seems unlikely that BB&T will do anything other than sell Edgewood again.
BB&T first became involved with the property nine years ago. According to the latest deed on the property, BB&T Collateral Services provided a loan to the owners in July 2008. In 2015, it sold the debt to SummitBridge National Investments IV of New York. SummitBridge foreclosed on the property and then bought it in February 2017. It paid $175,000. And now it has sold it to BB&T for $770,000. If anyone can make sense of all that, please leave a comment below.
On Wednesday, the bidding started at $460,765 and shot up quickly from there. Another bidder, an individual who wanted to renovate the house and either live there or sell it, stayed with BB&T as far as he could go but had to stop at $750,000. An unusually large crowd of about 25 people attended the auction.
Minimum Upset Bid: $808,500
Under North Carolina law, the sale remains open for 10 days to allow upset bids to be placed with the Clerk of Superior Court. Such bids must be at least five percent higher than the winning bid. In this case, that would total $808,500. An upset bid would trigger another 10-day upset period, allowing the auction to continue in slow motion.
No Rezoning Required for Redevelopment
Contrary to some neighbors’ expectations, a buyer who wants to redevelop the property wouldn’t necessarily need to get it rezoned. Its old RS-9 zoning is reclassified as R-5 in the new Land Development Ordinance. That zoning allows up to five single-family units per acre; in this case, that would mean theoretically up to 11 homes. The actual number allowed might well be less because any subdivision of the property would have to meet city requirements on minimum lot size and street frontage (and possibly more; those were two points mentioned by zoning director Mike Kirkman when I asked him about it today).
Note, January 11, 2018: This post has been revised with comments and an additional photo from Benjamin Briggs, executive director of Preservation Greensboro.
When you look at auction.com, you can expect most of the listings to be foreclosed subdivision homes, condos and townhouses. Pretty mundane places. The last thing you might expect would be a house like 111 Arden Place, a 5,200 square-foot stone mansion on 2.26 acres in Sunset Hills. The tax value of the property is just over $1 million. In 1999, the last time it was sold before foreclosure last year, the price was $845,000. This could be an interesting auction.
Known variously as the Thomas J. Shaw House, the G. Simpson Boren House and Edgewood, it may be the largest stone residence in the city, according to Greensboro: An Architectural Record.
“It was most likely built for Judge Thomas J. Shaw, a Superior Court Judge appointed by North Carolina Governor Craig,” Benjamin Briggs wrote in Preservation Greensboro’s 2017 Watch List. “The house was apparently built in 1914-15 by Shaw, and as such it is one of the earliest estates in Greensboro, predating both the nearby Sunset Hills and the College Park neighborhoods. The structure is composed of stone in a Colonial Revival composition featuring shed dormers and a service wing.”
It has six bedrooms and four bathrooms. The property includes a swimming pool, garage, gated driveway and many trees. The online listing includes no interior photos, and if there are any elsewhere online, they’re well hidden.
“The Shaw House is not the first estate to fall into bank ownership,” Briggs wrote. “The Hillside estate of Ethel and Julian Price in Fisher Park fell into ownership by the Bank of America before being sold to purchasers with preservation-oriented plans. The Shaw House could see a similar sale, with hopes that a preservation-minded buyer would see fit to complete a considerate restoration of the house.”
Interesting detail about this auction: Prospective bidders have no opportunity to go into the house and actually see what they would be buying. All you can know about it is what you can see from the street (and that’s not much). This may be typical of courthouse auctions; this or similar wording is on all of the current auction.com listings I’ve read:
“Occupancy Status is Unknown
“Do Not Disturb Occupant.
“It is a criminal offense to trespass on this property.”
So, here’s a million-dollar house (per the county tax department), and the winning bidder can go inside and see its condition right after closing. OK, then! Bring a certified check for 5 percent of your winning bid and hope for the best.
The lender bought the house for $175,000 last February. It’s scheduled to be auctioned Wednesday, January 24, 10:45 a.m., at the Guilford County Courthouse, Eugene Street lobby. (Enter through the main entrance, go downstairs and through the building to the former entrance on Eugene Street. You’ll have to go through security screening when you enter the building, which can take a few minutes. Wireless phones, cameras, laptops, etc., are prohibited in the building.)
Note: Online listings show the house as 5,693 square feet; the county property record shows 5,209.
OK, it turns out there has been one classic million-dollar mansion sold in Greensboro this year, after all. And it’s a landmark. 415 Sunset Drive was apparently unlisted before it was sold last month.
The Thornton Brooks House comprises 6,800 square feet on 1.5-plus acres in the heart of Irving Park. Six bedrooms, six bathrooms and two half baths. It was built in the mid-1930s for the son of a founder of the Brooks, Humphrey, etc., etc., law firm. Brooks and his wife owned the house for 51 years. Recently, it has fallen upon hard times. It has been listed for sale eight times since 2008 at prices ranging from $4.3 million down to $2.3 million. It finally sold for $1.5 million.
Benjamin Briggs of Preservation Greensboro reports that Sam and Ashley Simpson have bought house and will restore it for family use. Benjamin says:
Some photos from better days, via realtor.com:
Here’s a segment of the market for classic homes in Greensboro that’s doing just about nothing this year: $1 million and up. Not a single classic home in that price range has sold (as far as my records show). Where did all the millionaires go?
The most expensive classic house sold in Greensboro this year is 607 Woodland Drive in Irving Park, which went for $999,000 in May. The bigger-than-it-looks, 3,400 square-foot home sold for a stately $312 per square foot. It was on the market three days before the owners accepted the buyer’s offer. Your results may vary.
A 1965 Edward Lowenstein classic, 210 Kemp Road in Starmount Forest is listed at $975,000 and is now under contract. The owners are probably smart enough not to be counting their chickens or money until the sale closes, but the indoor swimming pool alone makes it worth mentioning. It may be the bargain of the year: At 7,200 square feet on just under an acre, the price works out to just $135 per square foot, a fraction of what you’ll usually pay in Greensboro’s high-end neighborhoods.
Let’s Get That Checkbook Out
Those are spoken for, but you still have seven classic homes to choose from at $1 million and up in Greensboro and Guilford County. Take your time; buyers aren’t falling all over each other to grab them. Most have been on the market for a while. Realtors say it takes longer to sell houses in this price range, and the market seems intent on proving them right.
What millionaire wouldn’t want an English manor house on Sedgefield’s Donald Ross course? For $2.9 million you get a 1935 Cotswold Tudor, 10,000-plus square foot home with four bedrooms, four full baths and three half baths, plus dining room, den, library, sunroom with a bar, stone terraces, etc. The lot is 2.88 acres. It’s been on the market for almost two years.
I tend to avoid calling houses “historic” just because they’re old. Hillsdale Farm does have some local history attached to it, though: It was built in 1929 by Lunsford Richardson III (a son of the Vicks VapoRub inventor) and his wife, Margaret, on what was then a 2,800-acre site. Now it’s just a 13,500 square-foot home with eight bedrooms, six bathrooms and 27 acres of wooded land overlooking Lake Brandt. It’s been for sale at $2.875 million for just two months.
The most expensive classic home in Greensboro proper is an Irving Park brick Georgian with five bedrooms, five and a half baths and a five-car garage. It has been for sale at an uncompromising $1.79 million since March, the sixth time since 2011 that its current owners have put it on the market. It comes with a smaller piece of Greensboro’s entrepreneurial history: It’s owned by Martin Sprock, founder of Moe’s Southwest Grill (who now lives in Charlotte).
This 1937 house has been for sale since April at $1.785 million. At 4,600 square feet, it isn’t the biggest mansion you can find, but it’s not without distinction: With an opulent $388 per square foot price, it’s the most expensive classic home in Greensboro on that basis. The newly renovated home has a den/study with a wet bar, gourmet kitchen with a butler’s pantry, a master suite with a balcony and guest quarters above the garage. That’s where your chauffeur could live.
After Ayrshire, this 1928 gem is the most extravagantly designed among this bunch, a “massive Elizabethan-style dwelling with steeply pitched gables, stuccoed walls patterned in diamonds and squares at gables, all topped with distinctive tile roof,” the listing says. Its $1.69 million price is reduced from the original $1.899 million, making it the one of the few on this list that have been marked down.
For $1.295 million, a great example of how Greensboro’s elite lived 100 years ago: twin living rooms, a library, an English garden with patio and pergola, towering front columns and a neoclassical facade. Thoroughly renovated, beautifully landscaped, 5,200 square feet. Built in 1912.
For sale only since August, this 1925 Tudor classic overlooks the Greensboro Country Club golf course. For $1.295 million, you get 4,200 recently renovated square feet on a half acre, plus a two-bedroom, two-bath guest house attached to the garage (chauffeur). Powerball winners and other millionaires wouldn’t even blink at the $307 per square foot price.
Another $999,000 honorable mention
As long as we’re in the neighborhood, let’s at least drive by this 1948 Irving Park classic. It’s $999,000, reduced from its original $1.075 million. Formal rooms, a study, bonus room, front and back stairs, 4,200 square feet, large corner lot, attached two-car garage, etc. “Meticulously maintained for the discriminating buyer,” the listing says. But we would expect no less, wouldn’t we?
The historic Dr. Joseph McLean House in Sedalia has become one of the most affordable National Register homes you’re likely to find. The well preserved house has been on the market since February, most recently with 18-plus acres for $359,000. Now, the house and just 1.5+/- acres are available for $150,000. The rest of the acreage is still available with the house or separately. (The owner also is selling another 52-acre parcel nearby.)
The Greek Revival house has three bedrooms and one bathroom. It measures 2,040 square feet. It needs some work, but a new owner wouldn’t necessarily be taking on a major renovation. A walk-through this week showed the house is livable now. The exterior needs cosmetic work. On the interior, some of the rooms need painting, and the floors need refinishing. The kitchen and bathroom would benefit from updating, but they’re usable as they are. With a little creative thinking, a second bathroom might be added upstairs (preservation specialists with the the State Historic Preservation Office can provide assistance). The address is 6069 Burlington Road (U.S. Highway 70), in eastern Guilford County.
The McLean House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995. It took its present form around 1850.(Guilford County property records date the house at 1852; the National Register nomination is less specific.)
Dr. McLean was a physician, member of the state Legislature and all-around prominent citizen; the nearby town of McLeansville was named for him. The property had been owned by his wife’s family, the Whartons, since the 1830s.
“Apparently the house originated as a two-story log structure encompassing the current east rooms and center hall, where deep window and door casings reflect the log construction,” the National Register nomination states. “Around 1850 the dwelling substantially achieved its current appearance when it was overbuilt and enlarged with frame construction as the two-story, one-room-deep main block that is three bays wide, sheathed in plain weatherboarding, and covered by a low-pitched gable roof. The vast majority of the weatherboards are original and all are painted white.” (The nomination was written more than 20 years ago, so the extent to which the original weatherboards are still there would need to be confirmed.)
The house has remained in the McLean family until now. The current owner, Dr. John McLean, lives in Massachusetts. The family has largely maintained the home’s historic characteristics. “Overall, the Dr. Joseph A. McLean House retains a high degree of integrity,” the National Register form states. “The dwelling is particularly noteworthy due to the preservation of its interior finish as well as its plan. With the exception of the modernization of the north ell room as a kitchen around 1965, the interior is remarkably unaltered.” Two historic outbuildings stand close to the house.
The previous listing for the house and acreage described it as having “potential for agritourism, SFR [single-family residential], or mixed-use/PUD [planned unit development] development.” The acreage has been envisioned as a subdevelopment for more than 20 years (the National Register nomination mentions it). Perhaps selling the house separately, and at a remarkably reasonable price, will allow this well-preserved piece of local history a better chance of survival.
The pending sale of 607 Summit Avenue could close any day, so now is a good time to look at the house and consider a future that Greensboro avoided. [Update: The deal fell through, and the house was taken off the market without a sale in the fall of 2017.] Without the protection of the city’s historic-district designation, there’s no telling how many historic houses in Dunleath and College Hill, especially, but in Fisher Park, too, would have met the same soul-killing fate.
Greensboro’s historic-district zoning overlay prevents single-family houses from being broken up into multiple units. The city’s design guidelines for historic districts prevent the kind of clumsy renovation that defines 607 Summit. Nothing can be done about bad pre-historic district renovations, like this house, but the city’s protection at least has prevented any more such hatchet jobs from eroding the historic character of the districts.
In an alternate universe where Greensboro did nothing to protect its most intact historic neighborhoods, grand houses in Alternate Dunleath, Alternate College Hill and Alternate Fisher Park are still being chopped up, thoughtlessly altered and stuffed with as many renters as possible. And so the neighborhoods’ property values haven’t soared and taken some of the property-tax burden off the rest of the city, as they have in our more fortunate universe.
When you look at houses like 110 Cypress Street in Dunleath (for sale at $229,500) and 214 S. Mendenhall Street in College Hill (recently sold for $338,000), you see the kind of houses and prices that would be rare in those neighborhoods, if they existed at all, without the historic district designation.
Who would invest hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more) in a house like 106 Fisher Park Circle (for sale at $1.35 million) if landlords were boring into the neighborhood and liquidating its historic character in exchange for the maximum number of rental units?
Greensboro’s leaders in the ’80s had foresight and courage in allowing for the protection of the city’s three historic districts. That protection isn’t a silver bullet, striking down all threats to the districts’ historic character and vitality. But it has given College Hill, Dunleath and Fisher Park a future as thriving neighborhoods, offering greater quality of life, property values and value to the community than before they were protected. Regrettable remnants of the past, like 607 Summit and others, provide a striking reminder of the tangible value that historic preservation brings to Greensboro.
If you’ve ever wanted to restore a historic home to its glory, Greensboro and Guilford County are full of opportunities for you. A new page has been added to the website to list homes whose defining characteristic might be described as “needs work … needs TLC … renovation project … rehab project … diamond in the rough … gutted” or the more legalistic “offered with no representations or warranties as to property condition.”
For those with the skills, patience and more money than you think you’ll need, here are five of Greensboro and Guilford’s best renovation opportunities.
- 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, 5,790 square feet, 0.43 acre
- Built in 1914
- Listed September 1, 2017
- Last sale: $233,000, February 2017
- Note: The Leak House is being sold by the Preservation Greensboro Development Fund for a total historic rehabilitation. Click here for details on the rehabilitation agreement, preservation easement and application process. The deadline for applications
is Monday, October 2, 2017has been extended. Contact Preservation Greensboro for details (336-272-5003).
- $179,800 (originally listed at $194,800)
- 3 bedrooms, 1 1/2 bathrooms, 2,400 square feet, 2.18 acres
- Price/square foot: $75
- Built in 1908
- Listed February 2017
- Last sale: September 2009, price unavailable in online records
- Neighborhood: Near Grandover and Business 85
- Note: A Guilford County Landmark property. Includes a detached workshop with a large second-floor room and a dilapidated barn. Some rooms have been renovated, but most of the house needs work.
- 4 bedrooms, 1 bathrooms, 1,496 square feet, 2.33 acres
- Price/square foot: $100
- Built in 1931
- Listed September 6, 2017
- Last sale: 1949, no price available in online records
- Not owner occupied. Listing: “… maybe a rehab project or full tear down, will need new well and septic.” Listing includes no pictures of interior.
- 5 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 2,022 square feet
- Price/square foot: $14
- Built in 1922
- Listed September 18, 2017
- Last sale: $14,000, April 2014
- Neighborhood: Asheboro Community
- Craigslist: “This house has been gutted … Tax Value $54,000 Asking Price 29,500 or BEST OFFER. Bring offers we are selling this one FAST!!! We also work with Realtors.”
- 2 bedrooms, 1 bathrooms, 1,016 square feet
- Price/square foot: $10
- Built in 1945
- Listed June 10, 2017
- Last sale: $34,000, January 1985
- Neighborhood: Eastside Park
- Note: You can’t beat the price.