Monday, September 12, 2005

City Paper's William Williams Lags Behind The Curve On Salemtown

In a recent article on Salemtown, Nashville City Paper reporter William Williams wrote:

[A] quick look at ... properties on Garfield, Buchanan and Coffee streets, and on Third through Seventh avenues north of Hume Street and south of the interstate are — by Nashville’s oft-outlandishly overpriced housing standards — very affordable. That’s because many are, bluntly, run-down, outdated and/or ugly.

Perhaps Mr. Williams' look was a little too quick. If he would have bothered to take a second longer look he would have seen more than a handful of infills starting at Hume on 5th Ave., wrapping around Garfield St., and starting to spring up along 6th Ave. and at a couple of points as far north as Buchanan.

Admittedly, Salemtown is a transitional neighborhood, a victim of urban renewal, so it has some ugly old houses. But it also has a few historic old houses that either are being renovated or have plans in the works for renovation. Seeing them requires more than a quick look. And frankly some of the infill houses are ahistoric and uglier than a armadillo's hairy beak, because some builders openly admit that they do not care what potential buyers want (I previously referred to one such ugly house on Buchanan St.).

However, more than what Mr. Williams calls a "handful" of attractive and popular infills have been built and sold over the past couple of years. Thanks to some who are moving into them (along with other residents in older houses), Salemtown Neighbors was formed in part to influence the zoning process and to encourage builders toward more restrictive and historically conscious architecture that increases demand and property values across the neighborhood.

While Mr. Williams seems to see properties that can be had for under $100,000, no infills that I know of sell for lower than $100,000, and most of the older houses that I see listed are going closer to $200,000 if not higher. There is only one remodeled house currently listed that is going for under $100,000. I know of at least one infill in Salemtown that has gone for over $300,000. I think that Mr. Williams is using hyperbole about Salemtown's transitional status in order to increase the shock value of seeing Garfield Place properties offered at well over $365,000. Prices in Salemtown may still be trending well under $300,000, but by no means is it as simple as he suggests to find properties under $100,000. Maybe a year ago, but not now.

I find it extemely unfortunate the William Williams only bothered to talk to the Garfield Place builders. If he would have talked with residents, he would have written a more accurate piece. We have experienced bad interpretations of Salemtown before with the Tennessean, now it looks like we may have to spend some time educating some City Paper reporters. Otherwise, they will continue to write inane articles making us sound like the "substandard-saturate stock" of Nashville.

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