Attack of the McMansions!

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Every morning a slew of pickup trucks and white vans pulls up to the corner of Bay  shore Road and 45th.. Workers get out of there vehicles and trudge to their days work. For many months now a new mansion has been in progress there. Rising up like the winter palace of some Russian czar it casts a shadow over the modest old Florida homes across from it. Thesis student Ross Berlin lives just down the street from the construction and complains to the Catalyst: “They bring at least forty cars to the nearby streets everyday. They load the streets with cars and noise”.  Still they come.

In our busted housing market where residential development is sparse ‘McMansion’ may seem an outdated term.  Coined in the late nineties and early 2000’s during the real estate boom, “McMansion” is slang for when people build a very large house in a neighborhood of moderately sized homes.  A commonly bemoaned trait of the McMansion is their lack of a unified architectural style.  In many cases the long-term residents of the afflicted neighborhood complain that the new home clashes with the traditional aesthetics of their neighborhood.  Local governments in the early 2000’s were in a sticky situation, balancing the needs of many lower income families with the financial might of a few individuals. In January of 2006 the city of Atlanta went so far as to place a moratorium on all new buildings in designated ‘problem neighborhoods’. Shuffling through piles of zoning documents, parties on both sides have managed to get their way; however one can’t help but feel worse for the lower income families forced to live in the shadow of a three-car garage neo-rococo Victorian villa than for Mr and Mrs Moneybags needing to find a new lot to raze.

Buzz over the issue has died down in recent years, surely because the dismal economy has those with means worrying more about paying off their Mercedes than building their dream home. Still, a lucky few manage to blast out space for themselves and snatch a little more happiness with every square foot.

One is hard pressed to complain in Sarasota. In many ways our town began as a place for mansions. The Ca’Dzan is perhaps one of the few examples where the lack of a unifying architecture works.

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