Now that I’ve been following construction activities in the Village of Southampton for awhile I can start to show you, via photos, the aesthetic transformation of some of the properties in the area. This is the property where I said it was a shame that the house was torn down, not because of historic significance, but for sustainability issues. You know, “there’s nothing greener than an existing building.” But then I got a comment from a real estate broker I once worked with saying the builder was wonderful and the house had irreconcilable pet odors, blah, blah, blah. So now we have a nice but HUGE house in its place. The National Trust for Preservation and the New York Preservation League have a term for this phenomenon: it’s called something like “The Times Three” effect, when something that is built or renovated is three times larger than what was there previously. This has definitely been the trend around here for awhile, but also statewide and nationally. Misery loves company.
Related to this is an argument that you can’t compare these ‘before and after’ houses because the before house chose not to build out to the maximum allowable buildable envelope whereas the current house did and therefore they represent two different and unique building trends. True, but you can still compare them, and you can reach numerous conclusions: that more owners/architects were designing houses then than builders, that house sizes were preferably smaller ‘back then’ and are larger now for varying reasons (among them profit of course), and that having much of a yard is now very low on the list of priorities.
This “times three” trend is transforming the Village of Southampton and only time will tell as to what extent. Its effects will be in terms of quality of architecture/character and in terms of density – how volumetrically dense can this village (and environment) endure? The mind-set of the powers that be seems pro-development because they created the codes that allow for this type of lot coverage. So it’s up to the community and its values to reverse or modify the desires behind the trend.