In 1980, Ricky Harris became a new Decatur homeowner. He paid $1 for a house on Ansley Street in South Decatur, an area that in 1975 became an “Urban Homesteading Demonstration Program” community.
The program was designed to get foreclosed and abandoned homes out of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) inventory and back into private ownership. In the mid-1970s, HUD was Decatur’s largest property owner and manager due to the high number of foreclosed and distressed properties in South Decatur.
Like other urban homesteaders, Harris got low-interest loans to rehabilitate the property and bring it up to code. Harris and the other urban homesteaders have been credited with spurring investment in South Decatur that transformed the community from a streetcar suburb sliding towards blight into a tony Atlanta suburb.
Harris sold the property in 2001 for $165,000. The latest sale recorded in DeKalb County tax records show that it was sold in 2001 for $218,500. According to Zillow, a local builder proposes to build a 4-bedroom, 3-bath 2,813-square-foot home after tearing down the existing 873-square-foot home built in c. 1948. The new house will go on the market for $599,900.
According to the builder, the new home will be “historically inspired.” My question is: What’s wrong with “historically authentic?”
© 2011 D.S. Rotenstein