The News and Observer, 2005

Rising Like The Phoenix

By IRIS JUNE VINEGAR, Correspondent

Michael Powell had no intention of tearing down the 1440 square foot house he bought at 2505 Anderson Drive, a street that has had eight homes razed and replaced with larger structures. The Archwood Building Company president had hoped to remodel the 1950’s ranch-style home, add a second floor and then sell it. But after the renovation began, Powell, who has built or remodeled over 100 homes in the past 15 years, discovered severe termite damage and was forced to raze the entire structure. He did salvage the living room floor and fireplace for the new 4080 square foot home on that lot.

“Mike has done exactly what I would have done,” notes landscaper Barry Brawley, the home’s former owner. “With all that termite damage there was no way he could have renovated that house.” Brawley, who lived there 22 years, is landscaping the lot for Powell and plans to keep all the backyard plantings, including fragrant spearmint and crepe myrtle trees.

Archwood’s five bedroom yellow brick home, which will go on the market for $980,000, includes two master suites, a full designer kitchen and a balcony off the second-floor master sitting room. The upstairs master suite also includes his and her walk in-closets and a double-sink bathroom with large shower and Whirlpool tub.

The knowledge that their home will be demolished following the sale does not seem to prevent many owners from selling it. But, some owners do have second thoughts, especially if nostalgia prevails.

For instance, even though a young man acting for his widowed mother received a cash offer, he refused to sell his childhood home to a buyer who planned to destroy it and build a larger one on the lot. Instead, the stately 1928 home on Hofstetler Street was sold for the same price to Raleigh natives Bill and Connie Merriman. Bill is Realtor John Merriman’s brother. “The owner’s son was willing to sell the house to us for that amount, provided we would not tear it down,” explained Bill Merriman. And, he recalled, “the seller, was quite impressed that we wanted to raise our children in the home where he was born and grew up.”

Although nostalgia may keep some homes from demolition, many building and real estate professionals differ on how a neighborhood is affected when one home is destroyed and a larger one rises. “Every time a home is torn down and replaced with another,” John Merriman explains, “the neighborhood land values are increased. If one person gets $245,000 for land, the next person gets more.”

Schulte, who also built the Olde Towne Village townhomes in Raleigh’s Whitaker Mill Community, says people are always concerned with changes. However, he notes, “Once we present our plans, there is no problem with my style of building.”

But Powell of Archwood Building believes there are alternatives to demolishing a house. “If someone asks me if we could tear down a home and build another, I tell them we could, but would rather work with the existing home.” Not only can they save money, he explains, they may be able to use many valuable fixtures such as an elegant old staircase and beautiful heart-pf-pine floors. “Although an old home may be completely renovated and remodeled, Powell notes,“it can still look like it’s been around forever.”

Forever is a long time, How about 500 to 1,461 years?