Saturday, March 25, 2017

There goes the neighborhood!

       ~ I live on a farm. . . . . . .
       . . . . . . .well it was a farm once upon a time ~

We dug up a rusty tractor seat in the back garden years back, and of course you know how huge our aging oak trees are, towering 80 feet into the Carolina Blue sky. Old farmland, probably very green and beautiful, perched on the gently sloping hills beyond downtown.
Now it's a suburban neighborhood. It changed back in the mid-1960's thanks to - or perhaps no thanks because who likes to see farmland disappear - one of the world's largest and most well-known companies, IBM.

IBM - International Business Machines - "I've Been Moved" - call it what you will - moved a large section of its work force from New York State here to North Carolina and located them in the spiffy new Research Triangle Park (RTP), which is now one of the largest research parks in the world. Named for the three hub cities making up the triangle, Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, or more correctly for the three major research universities in these three cities (NC State University, Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), it has continued to expand beyond all imagination with many international companies' research and development facilities located here, but thankfully no heavy, air polluting manufacturing.

Those several thousand original IBM employees and their families needed houses. This former farm became prime land for several subdivisions planned to the north of the city of Raleigh. With close proximity to a high speed beltline which could get Raleigh residents to work in the RTP quickly, and a strip retail center along the major roadway providing suburban shopping, the newly named North Hills was ripe to grow. Home building began and has never ceased. The shopping center was converted to an enclosed mall in 1967, becoming the first two-story, air-conditioned, indoor mall between Washington D.C. and Atlanta, Georgia. It survived until the late 90's, then fell into disrepair and was sold in 2001, lock, stock and barrel, to a visionary developer who has turned this area into Raleigh's new 'Midtown' - nothing short of a first class destination.

At first we were upset, worried, concerned, thinking our little suburban enclave would crumble and fall. . . . . . . instead we now sit on a kind of 'promised land'.  We now have a fabulous 'village' within minutes of our doorstep. Still not complete, building is expected to continue for a few more years. Already in place are international and boutique hotels, major banking and international business headquarters, elegant apartments and condos in large, but thankfully attractive, hi-rise buildings, great shops and shopping, marvelous restaurants, cafes, breweries, cinema, bowling, indoor and outdoor exercise facilities, and entertainment venues with Summertime weekly music concerts, and a seasonal outdoor Farmers' Market. Currently an excellent retirement community of condos/assisted living/nursing care is under construction. . . . . . .and in our neighborhood we have valuable land under our houses that people want to buy!  

They are moving in, the folk who work in Midtown. They are young, many single, some married and starting families, all apparently making good money, there are great elementary and middle schools in this neighborhood, and they want to live close to where they work. However, thanks perhaps to HGTV, they don't want little brick ranches and such, they want to buy our houses, tear them down and build up as well as out - very nice spacious homes with the latest everything shown on TV or Pinterest. Hey, I don't blame them - if I was young I'd want the same.

Here you can see Midtown rising in the background - we are a little
 further away and can't see the buildings from our house.

Stylish new homes going up around us. This one above is at
the entrance to our street, the small 60's ranch having being knocked
 down, to the surprise of all the neighbors, one day in January.

This is our cottage today, awaiting leafing out trees and flowers for Spring color.
Bob did give the front lawn its first seasonal mow this week.
We've lived here 30 years. Before then we lived close by in townhouses for
 another 10 years when we moved south.
 We've seen and handled the many changes in this neighborhood which we love.
  It's strange that now, almost weekly, strangers and Realtors leave notes on the door or
 mail us offers to buy our home.
But we are staying for the present because, as much as I wouldn't mind a brand
 new, easier to manage one level condominium, without the many garden chores,
there is so much I would miss. The secluded back garden with the screened gazebo
 and potting shed, the big deck, the front porch, the birds, squirrels, rabbits, cats,
 even a fox now and then. . . . . and of course my many wonderful, caring neighbors, 
some of whom have lived here even longer than us.

My garden in Spring last year.
The neighborhood this week.


Below, more views from Midtown Raleigh.

Time moves on. Nothing ever stays the same but when changes come it makes
 a huge difference if one is happy with them. Just about everyone with whom I've
 discussed the development of Midtown appears to be in agreement that it is a
 job very well done in so many ways.

Do you live in the city or country?
Have you seen many changes in your neighborhood?
Are they good or bad?
I would love to hear about your neighborhood.


  1. Our neighbourhood is fairly stable. Our house is 30 years old and no one is tearing things down here yet. But Vancouver - oh my, how different it is. Land values are crazy - our children there rent a 1940s house, about 900 square feet, in ratty condition (they have fixed it up on their own) and it would sell for 1.5 million, and whoever bought it would raze it and put up a monstrosity that goes from lot line to lot line.
    It sounds like Raleigh has a good plan in place for development without sacrificing character. Your cottage looks adorable, Mary, and it's sad to think that someone would just knock it down.

  2. Your cottage looks picture-book pretty!! I like the 1960s houses, but I also understand young families want something larger and more modern, maybe with better insulation (energy management) and so on.
    Difficult to say much about your new mid-town without walking there and soaking up the atmosphere. It looks very city-like to me.
    You already know quite a lot about my town in general and a bit about my neighbourhood from my blog, I guess :-)

  3. If it's a walkable city with lots of green space and there are restrictions on building height, then I'm all for change. But so many places don't take all of that into consideration. I much prefer a small, older, established home and community rather than knocking down and building something brand spanking new that takes up more space and doesn't fit in with its surroundings. Bigger is not better in my book when it comes to a house. And the money one makes today may not last forever. Better to live under budget than at the max. Your home is so lovely. I definitely wouldn't want to give it up.

  4. First of all your neighborhood is charming. If anyone knocks down your lovely cottage, they'd be idiots. Just my opinion of course. Progress does mean change and it sounds as if the changes going on there are being well received.

    There are changes and businesses going up at quite a clip in certain areas. In my own neighborhood, there are homes well over a hundred years old and the newcomers mostly built in the 1950s. My haven was built by a man as a wedding gift to his wife. I used to know their names. Anyway, the thing that pleases me most about my neighborhood is that some "rough" neigbors who did not tend their properties have moved on and people who do tend their properties have moved in. It makes a world of difference.

    Enjoy your happy, cute little corner!

  5. I live in a village at the edge of the medium-sized city, Victoria. The modest 1920's houses are being razed and enormous steel and cedar monstrosities are being built. We are happy with our little old cottage the way it is and are tackling the little maintenance jobs as they come up. There are still lots of people who think as we do and enjoy the 'smallscape' of the neighbourhood. Your cottage is so very pretty - I'd want to stay too!

  6. I have mixed emotions about such changes...generally if the growth is houses, and not too close together, I can handle it. If older "historic" homes are being torn down for more modern development, I HATE it! We moved out onto an enormous ranch that has been subdivided into homesites, but the smallest site is an acre....most are three to five acres. This suits us just fine! We live on the far back areas of the ranch and it takes 25 minutes to drive out to the little town of Terrebonne (three restaurants, a grocery store, a hardware store, a couple of small businesses and a post office...that's it!) It's another ten minutes out to Redmond from there. So, we are having to adjust to these changes in our life...plan our trips off the ranch, etc. I love the peace and quiet! I could never live in a town or city again. This is what we always dreamed of doing.

  7. We are building our new home out in the country. We lived 4 miles to a cute little town called Saluda. Hendersonville is a short 15 minute drive away and it takes about 40 minutes to get to Asheville. We are building on one acre and our neighborhood has 30 homes in it. After living in Greenville SC for a year and a half, we realized that we are not consumers....we don't need to be near malls, shopping centers etc. As long as I can get to the grocery store easily, that is all I need.

  8. Your neighborhood is much as ours. We do get notices all the time of people wanting to buy our place. It is a mixed bag of feelings, as we love seeing the home stay as they are, but three houses have been built nearby already and the writing is on the wall. For now we will stay put too.

  9. Hello Mary

    I finally blogged.
    Wow what different neighbourhoods we all live in.
    Its lovely to see how others live I agree.

  10. Very interesting about your neighborhood, Mary! My uncle - who is now in his early 80's - worked for IBM, but wasn't a NY transplant. And yes, he and his family lived in Raleigh. Now he and his wife live in Fuquay Varina. I love those small ranch homes and especially your cottage. I'd take one of those anyday over those huge new homes that they are building! I think the smaller homes have so much more character.

    I live in a small town and it's very blue collar. Even though we have neighbors all on top of us, we're surrounded by a lot of farmland, a State Park and a big lake.

    1. I know Fuquay Varina quite well Melanie - it's a nice small town not far from Raleigh, with beautiful countryside surrounding. Of course, being close to Raleigh and the Research Triangle Park area, it too is growing by leaps and bounds with suburbia spreading out across the rural landscape. If you come this way for visit be sure to let me know!

      Yes, like your area, we too still have plenty of countryside, lakes, rivers, state parks etc. nearby - then the mountains (4 hrs.) and coast (2 hrs.). American certainly still has everything to offer in the way of natural places to visit thankfully - a perk of living in a huge country I guess.

      Mary -

  11. Mary, I love your little cottage and I am glad to hear that you are content and are staying PUT! I wouldn't trade it for all of the large, new homes that are going up around you.
    Fortunately I live in the middle of a farm and three miles from a small town. Rural America is wonderful and I am grateful to be here.
    Farm Gal in VA

  12. HI Mary, I really enjoyed seeing your neighbourhood and the growing community around it. It seems like things are really booming in the IBM business there. As you know, we live in rural New Brunswick but just a 20 minute drive to the small capital city which is the best of both worlds. Our property was once part of a farm which is pretty well fallow now and, thankfully, has not been subdivided beyond the 3 houses built since 1971. I expect that will happen one day as most of the other farms in our community have done so. I love the country air, even when fertilizing season is here, the access to a provincial park 5 minutes away and so much beauty around us. There must be really good money being made at IBM if people can buy, raze and build beautiful big new homes! You are wise to stay in your sweet cottage for as long as you can look after it. Pam

  13. Wow, I so loved reading all this and learning about the tri city area. It all sounds utterly divine. Right, thatit it, Mary. Bob, Cassie and Richard, move over! We're moving in! hahah. Well, one can dream anyway. As we only rent I doubt that will happen but a visit one day woudl be fabulous. I sooooo love your darling lil' cottage. Such charm. So you. Your private garden oasis is jsut that. No wonder ppl want to move in and try to buy it from you. I'm sure the whole area has massively gone up in value over 30 years...jsut like it has here in Fort Collins. in fact, I am soo glad. When I first moved here, I truly HATED it. (if it wasn't for my pride, I would have moved right back home!) Seemed very red-necky in that there were only bars, mainly biker bars and lots of trucks. No coffee shops, definitely no pastry shops or real art galleries as there are now. It was derelict and rather abandoned old town area. Over the decades, urban growth has been a good thing, imho. We even have indian cuisine now too! :D

  14. Mary, what a shame that some of those cottages are being pulled down and the land redeveloped. I can understand people selling and moving on to some extent, but they are robbing the district of its history, those little cottages are so cute, in years gone by I would have loved one.

    More photos of your garden please. As you know I am still developing ours and hoping I live long enough to see it fulfil its potential. I bought a white rhodi yesterday and have been drooling over a magnolia.


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