Charmicide: Moving to an area to live because of its charm, but then demolishing the existing building stock to build something different thus removing the charm that attracted the residents in the first place.
In 2006, “Cottage Living” magazine voted First Addition one of the ten best cottage communities in the country. Fifteen years later we watch as one by one the homes that prompted that accolade are demolished and replaced with larger, bulkier structures. Old growth trees are removed and all available space is built upon.
Perhaps the most egregious example of this was highlighted in a recent LOPS blog post This House Matters. The beautiful, historic Koehler house at 718 3rd Street in First Addition was purchased this year. The four- bedroom, two-bath, fully updated and renovated, 2859 sq. ft. house with pool and tennis court sold for $1,547,650. It was deconstructed and demolished to be replaced with a house on the same footprint as the original.
Of course we can say that people should have the freedom to do what they want with their property, but these choices affect the neighborhood and by extension the City. And frankly, if you can afford to demolish a $1.5 million dollar house, you have quite a bit of freedom to make other choices.
As Lake Oswego moves forward to incorporate statewide zoning changes and affordable housing should we protect historic homes and the charm of neighborhoods like First Addition and Old Town? We have a finite number of historic older homes and few are protected through a Landmark or any other historic designation.
Do we want to maintain some of the charm and, in some cases, the affordability of these neighborhoods? Should we discourage filling up our landfills with perfectly good houses? And if a historic home is demolished should we, at least, require deconstruction and replacement with something architecturally significant? These are choices we need to make as a community.