Freeway Views Are Hot: Homeowners Cozy up to Urban Eyesores

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Source:   —  April 22, 2016, at 12:54 PM

The active stretch of hwy that runs alongside his townhouse complex is visible from his north-facing windows. The drone of passing motorists is audible throughout.

Robert Leviton'south loudest neighbor is a 12-lane freeway.

The active stretch of hwy that runs alongside his townhouse complex is visible from his north-facing windows. The drone of passing motorists is audible throughout. He can even hear a muffled version of it when his windows are shut.

"I was a tiny bit worried about how near it's to the freeway, but it really doesn't bother me," said Leviton. He paid $666.000 for his townhouse, more than triple the U. S. median residence sales price. But it allows him to live in a new residence within biking distance of his work and it was cheaper than other homes he considered.

Living close highways, train tracks and other urban eyesores has long been an unfortunate fact of life for residents of big, crowded cities around the world, including in tightly-packed cities in the U. S. Presently the rising popularity of urban living across the country, along with a shortage of land in desirable locations, has made these dingy corners of cities hot properties for developers and residence buyers, despite loud and unpleasant neighbors and the potential health hazard of living closer to pollution.

"Land is so scarce that the properties that are available for residential development tend to be those fringe properties," said Tim Barden, senior vice president at Land Advisors Organization, a national land brokerage. "We generally look multiple offers on all of our listings."

The genuine estate pros call this "infill" residential development. Developers purchase the land, demolish what was there and delete contaminants that may have leeched into the soil, something common with industrial properties. Trash-filled lots, older buildings, churches, factories, bowling alleys and parking lots are all making way for new housing.

These parcels of land are attracting developers even if they aren't zoned for residential construction yet, particularly if they're within or bordering an established residential neighborhood and within walking distance of shops, restaurants and other urban conveniences.

"You tend to look this in large metros that have a lot of desirability because of jobs, because of lifestyle," said Jody Kahn, senior vice president of research at John Burns Genuine Estate Consulting, which is advising more builders on infill development these days than ever. "People wish to live there."

In places love Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York, where available land has long been scarce, developers are finding they can expand nearly anywhere near to the city and find buyers.

Andrew Skinner, thirty-seven, recently bought a new town house built on the former site of a Sriracha hot sauce factory eight miles E of LA in an 88-unit complex that's separated from a phalanx of warehouses by a storm water channel.

Skinner and his wife bought a four-bedroom, three-and-a-half bath townhouse for $675.000 after failing to discover anything bigger than his former house for $725.000 and up.

He doesn't have any road noise to worry about. For him, it'south the whistles of trains that rumble on tracks nearby. "My wife is the daughter of a railroader," Skinner said. "She grew up with trains, so we don't particularly care."

Across the country, there is a wave of housing development along a putrid canal in Brooklyn that was designated a superfund site in 2010.

But this kind of development is also happening in U. S. cities that have long been more affordable, love Cleveland and Philadelphia, according to Kahn.

"Philadelphia is undergoing this unbelievable modify where everybody is emotional from the suburbs into the city, so then you've this regeneration of an urban area that'd kind of fallen into tough times," Khan said. "You definitely have warehouses and other (places) that are getting reused, generally for higher-density, mid-rise housing."

Southern CA builder Olson Homes has bought land from at minimum five churches the past couple of years, in addition to building on the former sites of warehouses and other commercial properties, and right along highways.

Leviton'south town house is one of thirty-three built by Olson along a stretch of Interstate two hundred ten in Pasadena that sold out as of February.

While many buyers may not wish to live following to a highway, those who do balance the downside with being walking distance to public transportation, restaurants and shops, said Olson Homes CEO Scott Laurie. "Is it for everybody? Absolutely not," Laurie said. "But it'south for the majority and it'south for the millennial buyer who understands the trade-offs."

One of those trade-offs includes the higher health risk of living close major highways. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, people who live close major roads show up to experience health problems associated with air pollution more frequently and more severely, including asthma, cardiovascular sickness and impaired lung development in children.

It'south just not something Leviton, sixty, is worried about.

"I ride my bike around town and there are cars all over the space and it doesn't seem to bother me," he said.

Chase Alex Veiga on twitter at https://twitter. com/—alexveiga . His work can be found at http://bigstory. ap. org/content/alex-veiga .

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