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Fancy homes on major roads

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Living in a smaller town, the major roads that do exist (at least four laned, say) all either have commercial establishments on them or links into side roads. Very rarely are there houses that are on the major roads, and if they are, they're very old. But in Houston, roads like Memorial, north part of Kirby, Richmond near 610, and maybe a few others...they all have really nice houses on them, certainly expensive ones (even not so "fancy" ones, ones that are expensive to own). 


One might guess that they pre-dated the major road and that may be true, but houses in that situation usually become dumpy until they're cleared out or converted into a business (I mean, there are a few 1950s-era houses along 290, at least for now). And yet, homes keep their value, even though you can't turn left in, left out of them.


First off, is this is a phenomenon unique to Houston? (I haven't seen this sort of thing elsewhere) Secondly, is there a real good reason why? (or is the first reason just good enough?)



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One thing that a lot of people forget is just how much Houston grew and how quickly.  The examples given pretty much pre date the mid sixties, right about the time the Dome opened - out in the middle of nowhere (see The Thief Who Came To Dinner).  At the time, there was no Galleria (much less whatever the flacks want to call the rest of the area) and no Greenway Plaza - both were all houses if not vacant land.  The Katy Freeway stretched all the way from Post Oak to Bunker Hill, and 610 and the Beltway simply did not exist except on planning maps.  While Memorial, Kirby, et al were thoroughfares, they were also thoroughfares on the way to additional homes (and far fewer of those than now), not to other business centers.   


This isn't really unique to Houston, either.  Just off the top of my head, I'm coming up with Druid Hills and Buckhead in metro Atlanta, the grid of six lane boulevards in North Dallas (and in particular the Park Cities), the Arlington (and similar streets) in Berkeley and El Cerrito... shoot, Sunset Boulevard through Beverly HIlls.  Practically everything on This Old House looks like it's either on or very close to some sort of Post Road with plenty of traffic.  I'll bet you a doughnut we can come up with lots of other examples.

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I thought about Dallas and I know someone who lives on a road in the Plano-Richardson area that is six laned in parts, but when it goes through old 1960s homes, the road is two way with a dual bike/parking lane. Arapaho Road has six lanes and is near the Central Expressway, and until about 10 years ago houses existed directly along the six lane road. Obviously, these didn't rise in land value all that much, and the city was able to acquire them and raze them. They weren't used for eminent domain (they remain empty) or redeveloped any other way, or along a floodplain. There were only about a dozen homes that were razed because they were the only ones built like this. All others are serviced by side streets or alleys.


One major road north, Park Blvd., in parts with homes facing outwards to the main road, the outer lane (six lanes total, not unlike Richmond) is converted to a parking lane, so it's a four lane in practice. I don't think homeowners in Kirby or Richmond have that option. The other big difference is that in the Plano-Richardson, the houses are fairly small 1960s-era affairs, but I don't know how wealthy the people who live there actually are.

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One thing that a lot of people forget is just how much Houston grew and how quickly. The examples given pretty much pre date the mid sixties, right about the time the Dome opened - out in the middle of nowhere..

I recently met an older gentleman who built his home on jackwood and fondren in the mid 50's. We talked at length about all the changes that area has seen over the last 60 years. What surprised me most though was when I asked him why he built where he did, he told me that at the time that where his house stands was still the "country" as the neighborhood sat outside the city limits (and even proposed city limits), and Fondren was still a two-lane, ditch-lined gravel road.

I can only imagine similar scenarios played out along Braeswood, Beechnut, Bellaire, and Briar Forest, just to name a few. Most of the communities built on the southwest side between the 50's and 80's seem to have encountered this to some degree.

Edited by Jeebus
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