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Signs of the Times: Tearing Down Bedford

2014 April 22
by The Bedford Citizen
A house that no longer exists on Hancock Street - Image (c) Integrated Construction Sitework & Landscape LLC

A house once stood on Hancock Street – Image (c) Integrated Construction Sitework & Landscape LLC

By Citizen Columnist Dan Brosgol

Take a drive around Bedford this spring and a characteristic that is shared by most neighborhoods is the unmistakable sound of demolition and construction.

The number of older homes that are being bought, torn down, and replaced with homes in the very high six figures is no longer the odd occurrence. As I spent a full day in town today (a rare Monday treat as I had last week off for Passover) I filled two hands counting tear-downs and new constructions within a half-mile radius of Whole Foods.

On the one hand, this is a nice thing for folks who bought their homes a while ago and can now cash in by selling their place for a tidy profit. It’s also nice for builders who can outbid middle-income families on an older home and then make a few hundred grand by building a home that’s twice as big.

On the other hand, this isn’t a good thing for anyone who has a smaller home that wants to buy a bigger one at a reasonable cost; they are being priced out of the market as the stock of modest homes shrinks. It’s also not-so-great for people who appreciate the historic nature of the old homes and feel that destroying them comes at the cost of destroying some of Bedford’s history.

Far be it from me to chastise any seller or contractor who wants to cash in on this kind of transaction. We live in a free market and people are welcome to do as they please. But a word of caution is necessary: the more that affordable homes are torn down and replaced with million-dollar new constructions, the more that the middle class will vanish from Bedford, replaced only by those who can afford jumbo mortgages or find their way into condos. That is the kind of dichotomy that will emerge if this trend continues, as the supply of smaller, more affordable homes, continues to dwindle.

  • Forch

    If the houses being torn down were nicer, they would not be torn down. Can anyone point to one of those lovely 1960s capes that was so pretty on the exterior that it really should have been preserved?? Of course not. It is not the teardowns pricing anyone out of the market. Builders are not paying above market prices for the right to tear down a nice house. In almost every case, they pay less.

  • Meighan Matthews

    New homes in towns surrounding Bedford are more attractive than the ones I see popping up everywhere here. Maybe we should take a look at their zoning regs for anything useful we could copy.

  • Thomas James

    It’s so sad, young people who grew up in town are being forced out because the contractors overbid on run-down homes in order to tear-down and build mansions for millions. History is such a shame.

  • Dora

    There will be no more diversity if this town becomes exclusive to high income families.

  • Meighan Matthews

    Amen. Having grown up in an historic home in CT and living in one now that may become a tear-down if I leave (only because of its small size) it makes me sad. The built history is part of what makes New England towns wonderful places to be. I wish the new homes at least were designed with some architectural integrity. I see most new construction in Bedford to be enclosing giant indoor spaces without much thought to the exterior. A home with no windows on an entire side facing the road? Weird.

  • oceancity

    On the other hand , the town loves the higher property tax! You make the town desirable and they will come. Everyone wants to be the last family in a great town and then shut the door. I think the tear downs are a testimony to Bedford desirability. Celebrate Diversity!

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