“COMING” Means making the property ready
There’s a lot of work to do at 1514 Silver, work that needs to be done to ‘make it ready’ for the right buyer. Don’t get me wrong, the right buyer will happily pay the right price, that’s what “priced-right” really means. We’re not just going to give away this property – no property in Huning Castle should ever be just given away – the quality of life, the beauty in the neighborhood is just too special.
We’re starting (my wife and I) at the curb and working our way forward, meaning from the front of the property all the way back to the back wall. It’s a journey, and involves not just a bit of work. But we want any buyer to be happy, and it takes hard work to make a good buyer happy, but in the end it is probably worth it – on that day when the property sells.
Curb appeal begins with the curb
There is so much that people often don’t know that really affects them. This fact is especially true when it comes to properties and houses. It begins with knowing a little about the street which is the basis for the street address – in this case 1514 Silver.
Silver Avenue is one of the traditional streets in Albuquerque named after the natural resources so abundant in New Mexico; Silver, Gold, Copper, Marble, Slate, Lead, Iron, Coal, Granite, and arguably Orchard, Fruit, Mountain, and even Summer.
Silver is a dedicated, city owned right-of-way (R.O.W.) with a width of 60 feet. The 33 feet streets are composed of cement curbs and gutters and intervening asphalt paving. The in-curb heavy cast steel gutter openings “drain to river.” In the Huning Castle neighborhood the asphalt paving is in good repair.
To get 1514 Silver ready for sale we are literally starting at the edge of the asphalt, repairing and replacing small bits of missing asphalt as we work our way to carefully fixing things between the curb (including the curb) up to the front edge of the house, which is actually the front of the very special attached “two-car” brick garage. We call this area the front yard, but to understand this area it takes a bit of explaining.
the front yard
The front of the property is 75 feet wide per plat. Surveying errors over the years typically lead to a give and take of a few inches or feet (very rarely) in regards to the real property lines in the neighborhood, but the clear and long demarcation, ‘set in cement’ by long existing walls, at 1514 Silver makes it special, and almost unique.
THE “free land” ROW
Many cities and towns have a dedicated non-street area adjacent to each roadway that is reserved for sidewalks, street trees, street furniture, and the location of public infrastructure like fire hydrants, water meters, and even little libraries.
On Silver this city owned, tax free, off-street right-of-way is 13.5 feet wide. The area looks like it is “part of the house,” and because of the way things are done in Albuquerque and in Huning Castle it is and it isn’t. Let me explain.
The cities perspective is that maintenance of the sidewalks and trees “in front of a house” “in the right-of-way” is the property owners responsibility. How this is done constitutes “owner discretion.”
The result is that many home-owners in Huning Castle have done away with all their sidewalks and replaced them with mounded landscaping, plants and flowers. Several owners have “taken” the entire area, or part of it, and enclosed the area with walls, sometimes even very high walls. Other owners have built or maintained very lovely six foot wide ADA compliant sidewalks, often removed a respectable and comfortable six feet from the curb of the street.
In other areas the sidewalks have been left in a state of “deferred maintenance” as ancient tree roots gently lift circular sidewalk portions toward the low lying limbs and the beautiful New Mexico sky. This diversity is the charm of the neighborhood. One never really knows what to expect. And much of it really doesn’t matter, because nearly everyone walks very safely out in the street, because virtually no one ever parks on the street, unless they are construction workers or maintenance or delivery gals or guys.
At 1514 Silver this “free land – public ROW” is an untaxed 1,012 square foot addition to the property. Not bad, considering that in a place like downtown Philadelphia the average $600,000, three story, 1,200 square foot brick house only comes with a 465 square foot lot. Free land is good, but to get it you have to buy the rest of the property at 1514 Silver.
25 foot front yard setback
Most of Albuquerque was built under Zoning laws that required a 20 foot “front yard setback” from the front property line, which as we discussed is 13.5 feet back from the curb.
Huning Castle was special in that houses had a 25 foot setback, allowing ample front driveway parking for the longer and bigger cars that so many people used to have back in the 30’s, 40’s and fifties. Another nice thing about a 25 foot property setback is that you don’t have to stand in the street to get thing out of the back of the hatchback, or the trunk of the car. It’s called room and ambiance. I call it common sense.
The theory of the city is that no fences or walls higher than three feet, unless they are “open” can be built in the front yard setback and no part of any house can be built in the setback. The idea is that this 1,875 square foot area (75′ x 25′) at 1514 Silver is used as a front yard and as a driveway for the garage.
Making it special
Many houses have landscaping. Some houses have xeriscaping, a water authority (ABCWUA) program that cashes out your lawn for money with your promise that the greenery will never come back.
At 1514 Silver we haven’t cashed out the lawn. The neighborhood is famous and beloved for its beautiful lawns. Sure a lawn can be expensive, and water isn’t always cheap, and the “mowers and blowers” that it takes to maintain them are not ever cheap either.
1514 Silver has a lawn, a front lawn, no back lawn. The lawn is a resounding 375 square feet in area, one of the smallest and easiest to mow in the neighborhood, however the design of the lawn makes it appear to be much larger.
Further, the lawn is totally flat, made that way by short elevated walls along the sidewalk. The purpose of the design is to conserve water by eliminating that troubling runoff that always goes along with lawns built on a slope.
Eliminating the ‘runoff factor’ is also helpful when considering the ‘water police’ – that ABCWUA Albuquerque institution that actually runs around in unmarked cars equipped with cameras to catch ‘water wasters’ that allow unrestrained water to flow into the streets and down the gutters as the gutters ‘drain to river’ – the Rio Grande. We can’t say that 1514 Silver is water police perfect, but it comes much closer to that goal than almost anywhere else.