Eyesore of the week

By Neal McNamara

Property: 409 Oakland Ave., Lansing

Owner: Paramount Land Holdings LLC

Taxpayer: Paramount Land Holdings LLC Assessed: $23,500

Owner says: Did not return a call seeking comment

Architecture critic Amanda Harrell-Seyburn says: This house is a perfect example of how single-family residences, even great ones, can be victims of circumstance. It’s true that "location is everything,” and this house’s location on a highway may make it less desirable. Single-family residences located on high-speed arteries, such as Oakland, become difficult to attract buyers and renters, and often fall into disrepair. Residences along Oakland are good urban building types that constitute an important part of the Lansing housing stock and would benefit from a reduced speed limit along Oakland Avenue. To learn more from Harrell-Seyburn, see this story at www. LansingCityPulse.com

Even whipping down Oakland Avenue at 40 MPH (or, for some scofflaws, 50 to 60 MPH), it’s hard not to notice that this home’s front porch is severely damaged. One wonders if a car might have plowed into it.

The property’s owners, Gilbert, S.C.-based Paramount Land Holdings, did not respond to a request for comment on whether this home would be fixed. But, the company is trying to sell it. Right next to the red tag on the front door is a sign that advertises a low monthly rate to own the house. That rate presumably does not take into account the cost to fix the mangled porch.

More about the four hundred block of Oakland Avenue from Harrell-Seyburn:

has great housing stock that is being
underutilized. Instead of building more housing that lacks the
quality amenities afforded by higher density, traditional
neighborhoods, it would be advisable to focus on improving the
conditions of the existing housing stock.

Single family
residences on Oakland Avenue are an invaluable feature of the Lansing
housing stock because they are of a good density and traditional urban
character. Houses are located close together so that the neighborhood
is of a higher density and as such, allows for greater walkability and
population to support daily amenities in walking distance like
restaurants, dry cleaners, convenience stores and flower shops.

In addition, the porches on these houses help define the
private and public realm. Porches allow residents to relax in the
private outdoor area of their residence but in proximity to the
sidewalk. This arrangement allows the opportunity for informal
meetings between residents and pedestrians who are located below the
porch. Informal meetings
helps foster good community between residents of a neighborhood,
something that is unachievable in low density residential subdivisions
with deep setbacks.

Also, these houses are located in good proximity to the street,
approximately fifteen feet setback, so that they create a good urban
edge for pedestrians at the sidewalk level allowing for "eyes
on the street."

Oakland Avenue is a one-way, 35 MPH street that runs through
the city. However, most cars drive at about 45 MPH making it very
difficult to cross and dangerous to back a car out of a driveway. Two solutions
would dramatically improve the housing stock along Oakland and make
these residences more desirable:

1) Reduce speed to 25 MPH on Oakland Avenue, from Washington Avenue to Jenison Avenue, through the residential neighborhoods.

2) Use alleys to accommodate parking for residences along Oakland
Avenue and avoid front loading driveways that are dangerous to back out
of and obstruct traffic.

The Problem: Oakland Avenue
is a state highway. It is under the jurisdiction of the
Michigan Department of Transportation. As a highway, MDOT's main concern is moving traffic, which is
why Oakland Avenue is one-way and 35 MPH.

“Eyesore of the Week" is our look at some of the seedier properties in Lansing. It rotates each week with Eye Candy of the Week. If you have a suggestion, please e-mail eye@lansingcitypulse.com or call Neal McNamara at 371-5600 ex. 17.