Sunday, August 5, 2007

Reading the Bulletin's article on the housing slump today, made me realize that pain -- especially other people's pain -- is easily forgotten. The article made the '80's slump seem so bloodless, just a blip, look at me now, ma.

I remember driving down Franklin from 3rd St. to Twelfth St. circa 1986 and it seeming like every other house was for sale. Well, guess what, the other day I drove down the same patch and seemed like every other house was for sale. What's more, I counted roughly 40% of the "For Sale" signs as FSBO. (By the way, in my neighborhood, I've noticed the same 4 houses for sale. But then the "For Sale" sign disappears....than a few days later, there is a 'new' listing, and the "For Sale" sign is back. Seems to me that there is some real game playing going on with the listings. 2200 houses could easily be way, way more than that.....)

So we take the couple grand of houses in the real estate listings, and all the houses that are being built, all the houses that are for sale but not currently listed, and the FSBO's and....Wow, just wow.

Who's kidding who?

It was a small town back then, but I can't help but think of the saying, the bigger you are, the bigger the fall.

I don't remember ANYTHING being built from 1980 to 1990. Obviously, something was being built, but I don't remember anything. Downtown's big news was a couple of renovations -- the old Post Office and the O'Kane building. That was it.

We didn't get a major new store in town for those ten years (though we got a series of 'want to be' major stores, who were immediately put out of business when the Fred Meyers and Walmarts arrived.)

As recently as the '90's, the owner of the Mattress Factory was lobbying to turn the space he was leaving into a soup kitchen. (Now, I'm kind of sorry I went against it -- it sure would leaven the mix! Jewelry store, art gallery.... soup kitchen.... art gallery....)

I've had an interesting week talking to customers about the Super Burrito. Every single one of them said something along the lines of, "Oh, yes. Too bad they couldn't make it...." Or "Yeah, it's too bad they couldn't afford the rent."

I wanted to yell at them: THEY WERE KICKED OUT! What part of KICKED OUT don't you understand?

Like I said, other people's pain.

Meanwhile, I keep thinking about the commercial aspect of this slump. Who is going to occupy the spaces in the new buildings downtown? There are two large buildings coming on line on Bond this year; the Franklin Crossing is still sitting there. Without bright-eyed bushy tailed newcomers who think, "Wow, 2.50 per foot! Where I come from, it's 4.00!" who is going to rent these spaces?

I have to believe that most locals know better, and any who have lived here any length of time, would already have opened their business.

So we are depending on newcomers.

We are teetering on the edge of the cliff and hoping an interest rate hike or a recession won't push us over? What kind of planning is that?

As Bruce Springsteen said, "The poets round here don't say nothin' at all, they just stand back and let it all be...."

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