old gm building
Bartleby the Scrivener vegan27
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candid photography
My nebulous idea of cataloging the houses of Corktown involves taking modern photographs of every structure within the historic district. Since I don't know anything about photography and only have a several-years-old, consumer-grade point-and-shoot, cecile468 volunteered to help me out since she has a nice camera and is actually taking photography classes. We met up on Saturday afternoon to see what kind of results we'd get. We had enough time to photograph every house on Leverette Street.

Although the blazing sun and blooming flowers flatter the houses in a way, it's not ideal for photography. Cloudy days light the houses more evenly and help prevent glare. Also, it's much easier to actually *see* the houses in the winter when the trees lose their leaves. Working around the trees forced Hannah to take closely-cropped images, but I feel that wider shots would be better for architectural cataloging. The tentative plan is to regroup in the fall as soon as the leaves fall, before it's so cold that walking around outside for several hours won't be intolerable.

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I spent Saturday afternoon and most of Sunday at Sarah's. At one point she asked me if I had ever been in a fight. I said no, which surprised her. Her reason for asking, in all sincerity, was that I seem like the kind of person who upsets others a lot, and in all probability must have been punched in the face by now. I guess I've just been lucky so far!

On Sunday morning we had crepes for brunch in downtown Birmingham. (Doesn't THAT make you want to punch me in the face?) The restaurant had lots of vegan options and our waiter made good suggestions. We agreed that the next time we have crepes for brunch in downtown Birmingham, Sarah has to wear her extra-wide-brim sun hat.

* * * * *


Since the louder-than-normal Lager House concert a week ago Friday, and the super-loud, super-late party at 1705 Sixth Street a week ago Saturday, I've been browsing houses for sale on realtor.com. If nothing else, it made me a little more grateful to live in such an architecturally beautiful neighborhood. Most houses for sale are seriously just straight-up ugly. The people who live in attractive homes understandably aren't selling them.

After a week of searching, I only found a single suburban home in a desirable area, architectural period, and price range:


1017 Owana, Royal Oak


I believe they were asking $123,000, which I could afford if I sold my house, but I'd still have the construction loan to pay off. It doesn't matter now--the listing was taken down on Friday afternoon.

One inexplicably intruging option is to purchase this two-family fixer-upper in Hamtramck:


3415 Yemans, Hamtramck


They're asking $14,900 for it, but I'm sure I could get it for less. It's an extremely stereotypical Hamtramck two-flat. It looks just like the house my grandpa was born in, but then again, so do hundreds of other houses in the area. I think it's kind of neat that it's right across the street from Hamtramck's city hall:



If I sold my house for $150K, paid the taxes on that income, and paid off the Bagley construction loan, I would have enough money left over to live off of for one year *and* renovate the house very, very nicely (about $69K, which is more than enough). At the end of it I would have a rental unit, plus a place for me to live in and fulfill my Pollack destiny. Or, if I decide *not* to live there, I'd have *two* rental units to benefit from.

I've never actually lived in Hamtramck, but it's definitely closer to my Polish-Detroit heritage than Corktown. It's also the most dense and truly urban place in Michigan. I was reminded of Hamtramck when I visited lizbaillie in Astoria last year--both neighborhoods are very dense and active, but still middle-class--e.g., the lawns are mowed, but the houses are still covered in old-fashioned aluminum siding.

That loud party was over a week ago, and I feel mostly better now. Maybe investing in better sound-blocking options is wiser than buying, gutting, and renovating a whole new house in a still-probably-noisy area.

I actually am familiar with that Owana house. Pretty sure it sold a year or two ago to the current owner in the $30k range and it was being marketed as a tear-down. I know that really is neither here nor there as far as you are concerned, but it looks great and it has made quite a transformation. HOWEVER, you are skilled in doing rehabs so you probably would have paid for work you could have done yourself had you bought it.

That is true, but when I'm looking at listings and playing "what if", I only consider the extreme options of either a house I will have to gut myself, or a house that is completely finished.

Hopefully the owner of the Owana house did everything correctly to save it from demolition. That little section is the only place in the suburbs that has the kinds of houses I like that are actually affordable, and they're probably cheap because they're 800-900 square feet, too tiny by today's standards.

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