Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Receivership is an underutilized tool: Lynhill Condominiums in Prince George's County, Maryland

In "Deeper thinking/programming on weak residential housing markets is required: DC example, Anacostia" I discussed ways in which the DC Government can support the improvement of multiunit housing in impoverished areas, modeled on the Tower Renewal Project in Toronto.  (HUD also has a similar financing program to rehabilitate and preserve lower income housing that needs to be updated.)

But the need for "tower renewal" is more widespread.

Lynhill Condominiums on Good Hope Road in Temple Hills, Maryland.  Image from WTTG-TV (Fox 5).

Today's Post has an article, "Prince George's to condemn Temple Hills condo complex if water is shut off," about a failing condominium complex in Prince George's County just outside of the DC line--a two-bedroom condo sold there for $9,900 in 2013, the monthly fee is approaching $700, and the management company hasn't been paying the water bill which is now over $120,000, and so the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission has sent a shut off notice.  If the water is shut off, the buildings will be condemned and everyone will have to leave, so that a few hundred people will be without housing.  Note that Fox5 reported on this last week, "WSSC will cut water to large condo complex in Prince George's County."

It makes more sense for there to be a receivership process, so that the government can step in and take over management of the building, to improve it, and to ensure that the WSSC bill gets paid, but also so that people aren't displaced.

I have written about the receivership process as it is used in the State of Ohio on historic preservation matters ("Housing receivership to cure nuisance properties: the option that DC refuses to consider").

Prince George's County needs to explore that option pronto, for this and other properties.

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At 2:10 PM, Anonymous charlie said...

well, it seems the problem here is a condo building that requires a large investement -- and the condo owners don't have the 20K each that is neccessary. Hence the huge montly fees.

Not sure how you cure that.

At 2:15 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

yep. That's why a "Tower Renewal" like program is neccessary.

It's also an example of likely lower income households getting hoodwinked (a la the "slap your brand on a hunk o' land" out of the book _Centennial_) by unscrupulous developers, who built a crappy building.

Have you ever read _Condominium_ by John McDonald? That'd be another example.

But yes, I think it'd be hard to do receivership, since the building isn't rental.

OTOH, coming up with aid (that's what HUD programs do often) to bail out the owners and right the property is probably better than condemning the building and furthering and continuing the blight.

No good alternatives, definitely.

At 2:17 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Here's an amazon review of _Condominium_:

My God, reading this book you can't tell whether it is 1977 (which is when it was written) or 2009. And, I'm reading it as two hurricanes are churning across the Atlantic. Condo boom in Florida? Check. Unsustainable home values? Check. Corrupt builders/bankers/politicians? Check. Shoddy construction? Check. People looking to fulfill a dream and being severely disappointed? Check. I can't speak for the all the marriage infidelity but I'm sure that's happening too. The book was extremely funny until it was extremely sad. But, you might say many of them got what they deserved. Nature (and life in general) has an uncanny way of turning things around.


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