This Is A Teardown

We see impending teardowns often, on “06880” and WestportNow.

We see the end results — first in the form of vacant lots; later, as much larger structures.

But we seldom see a teardown in progress.

This afternoon, I was driving down Turkey Hill North. Here’s what I saw:

Enjoying a steak dinner is far different from watching a cow get killed. Just as watching a house demolition is not at all like seeing a McMansion rise quickly on empty land.


10 responses to “This Is A Teardown

  1. Nancy Hunter Wilson

    That’s a very strange comparison, but I (omnivore) get it.

  2. Marcy Fralick

    I understand the Westport mentality of bigger, better, best; and I understand land is at a premium, but it’s still sad to see homes I grew up with, and thought were wonderful at the time, being demolished so someone can build a monstrosity in its place.
    This is such a strange concept, teardowns, because out here in the West land is easily procured, and our older homes are appreciated for their quality and style (Craftsman homes, for example). McMansions couldn’t be built as replacements for teardowns, as they would violate zoning ordinances, so instead, there are newer subdivisions that cater to the “moneyed” crowd and custom build McMansions for them. Zoning is a big deal out here, which fortunately preserves some of our beautiful, historic neighborhoods.

  3. don bergmann

    Many teardowns do not need to occur. They could be prevented by our Zoning Board of Appeals. Our ZBA approves “hardship” variances that are not supportable under the laws of CT which impose a very demanding test for the granting of variances. Unfortunately, it is costly to challenge a ZBA decision in Court and few are willing to bear that cost. Some of us in our neighborhood near Old Mill Beach are, however, pursuing those costly challenges. Many tear downs involve developers who take advantage of both our regulations and the ease with which the ZBA grants variances. These arise with older homes that are non conforming, but are quite properly grandfathered since they pre-existed our zoning laws. Pressure needs to be put on the ZBA. Once the message gets through, developers will realize their efforts can be thwarted and will either stop abusing the system, build more modest homes or get out of the “tear down” business.
    Don Bergmann

  4. So Sad! Really, when my grandparents moved her in the mid 70’s, there were all types and sizes of homes. If you were a fireman, you might live in a ranch or a small cape. NY executives might own a colonial and wealthier folks would have a larger home and maybe keep a horse in the backyard. Every “normal-sized” home under 3500 square feet is a knock-down. It’s a sad statement when the folks who work in this town eg: teachers, policeman and firemen can not afford to live here. Is this really progress or unrestrained free-economy? Either way, it is a loss for Westport and once these quaint homes are torn down, they will never come back.

    • Marcy Fralick

      This same thing happened in places like Aspen. The old houses weren’t torn down, but when new developments were built for the “stars” like Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, their mansions, even though they were miles away from town, made the value of the smaller, quainter original homes in Aspen skyrocket in value. The service people; fire, police, EMT, teachers, landscapers, etc., couldn’t afford to live there anymore and had to move to the less glamourous, more plebian towns nearby. Aspen town updated its storefronts, trendy boutique stores and national top drawer stores took over downtown, upscale restaurants appeared, and the former mining town with a storied history became Glamour Gulch. It’s really sad that the former locals can’t afford to be local anymore.

  5. Ruth Kalla Ungerer

    So sad and far too commonplace. Unfortunately, along with the houses, trees also come down. We can do better and should!

  6. Diane Cady

    Sad is right. Mad is also right. Our Town is losing its charm, its trees and what once was its unique quality: integrity of architecture

  7. I also do not think it is at all democratic to have our local brokers tell the builders before a home goes to market…. this prevents young people from buying and fixing up older smaller affordable homes in westport.
    A home owner should realize they may in fact get more money from a family wanting the house than the builder wanting the land…thoughts on how to prevent I do not have :>(

    • cheryl McKenna Kritzer

      further more this lessens our vibrant young artistic community if the young people can not afford to come see/buy these older fixer upper homes…
      when I was young I went to a desolate area in NYC called Tribeca and bought a loft and fixed it up for my two kids and husband….you know what happened there I am sure….Westport will benefit from creative young people ..lets give them a fighting fair chance to compete!!!

    • don bergmann

      The situation is even worse than that. Developers go directly to owners of older homes to get them to sell, thus bypassing the broker. I have also been told by a very reputable source of a story in which an older person long living in their home was approached by a builder who convinced the owner that he, the builder, wanted to save the “lovely” home, e.g. just make renovations, but preserve the character. The builder told the owner that could only be done if the owner reduced the sale price.. The owner was pleased to save the house and agreed to a lower price. The sale occurred and the builder then proceeded to tear down the house and build a large, new house. Yes, outrageous, yes, probably illegal, yes, things like this happen because making money is the driving force so often.. Our ZBA is part of this problem because that body grants variances for tear downs far too easily. One effect is to raise the value of land.
      Don Bergmann