Assessing cost vs. value of the Cedar Street acquisition
According to the Borough, they recently purchased those properties at below market value. Borough claims a purchase price of $250,000, and Andrew Smith, Jenkintown’s top selling real estate agent tells us that price is well-below market value.
Indeed, Zillow backs him up. The current combined “Zestimate” for both properties is $485,000 for a potential $235,000 profit. It just happens that this amount lands in the same neighborhood of the paving-program-related sidewalk repairs.
Thanks to a recent Right-to-Know request we filed, Borough records show that residents who elected to report their repair estimates paid a combined $217,063.50 to fix the Borough’s sidewalks and curbs. Our family paid $3,000 (or the cost of a brand new, desperately needed gas-fired furnace. Our current furnace was installed during the Nixon administration).
To account for the rest of the work, we simply apply George Locke’s “going rate” for sidewalk and curb repair, or what PennDOT pays, the cost the entire project runs about $385,200.
The PennDOT rate would be a wild overestimation, however. Thanks to the permit filed by Beaver Hill Condominiums, we have a good real-world number. They did 1200 linear feet of curb and 187.5 sidewalk blocks for $26,500.
In unit numbers, that translates to paying $45,910 less than the George Locke Going Rate would require.
We therefore would like to respectfully ask the Borough sell the Cedar Street properties and use this potential windfall to refund residents for the work we did repairing their sidewalks and curbs.
What brings the whole community greater value? A tiny park hidden away to be used by a very limited number of residents, developed and maintained at an undetermined cost, and which will result in no appreciable increase to anyone’s property values?
Or better sidewalks and curbs for the entire community?
Too often overlooked with many big ideas are the costs that come after acquisition. Nowhere in the Borough’s email did they address this. Let’s lend a hand with a quick rundown of what the Borough will require just to build this park:
- Demolition of the existing structures: $15,000 to $25,000.
- Architectural and engineering services and construction: $175,000-$250,000.
- Playground equipment and furniture: $10,000.
- Trees at about $500 per tree.
Total tax losses will amount to no less than $11,000 per year. The Borough likes to cite only the loss to the school district, but as a community, we assume the entire burden. Then add that number to whatever it costs just to keep the park clean (DPW man-hours) and safe (insurance).
This proposed park would lie only 1,500 feet — about a quarter-mile — from the edge of the school grounds.
The furthest point away from any edge of the school playgrounds is probably the intersection Newbold and Rydal — a total of about 4,080 feet. Maybe we should put a pocket park on that side of Old York.
Finally, communities typically demand pocket parks in hyper-dense neighborhoods that rely upon public land for greenspace. In this aerial, we see no lack of green.
You might say that the ordinance requires residents to do sidewalk repair, but where in our laws does it tell the Borough to compete with the School District to build parks and playgrounds? Especially when no one asked them to do it?
Wrong idea.Wrong place. Wrong way to do it.
We’d love to hear your thoughts.