I stopped by 36 Edgewood Drive to check on progress. Although its foundation was approved in July 2006 it has still not come on the market and as you’ll see from the photo, no one’s mowed the lawn in awhile. Nonetheless, there is some activity going on today, Saturday afternoon. There were a few lights on and a solitary painter was working inside. Does he work for the builder or a bank? Is this place really finally going to be completed? It would appear that it is, though completed by whom, coming on the market when and and what price are all mysteries.
The Licata mansion on Meeting House Road, on the other hand, is definitely abandoned. It’s huge – 15,000 sq.ft.? More? And really kind of cool inside, but there’s nothing much there except framing and some southwestern kiva fireplaces. It would cost a fortune to finish and it’s been abandoned so long I doubt there’s any choice but to tear it down and start over. A pity and a waste.
And then there’s 19 Licata Terrace another soon-to-be abandoned project by Mr. Licata. The picture’s below – a not-so-nice house on an existing foundation (the second photo shows rusting lolly columns holding up the entire rear side) on what I would describe as a street of modest homes – you might be harsher. Here’s a question: this house is burdened with a $1.750 million mortgage, plus various sub contractors’ mechanic liens, plus delinquent property taxes and it will take, by the builder’s own estimate (which should be taken with a grain of salt), another $180,000 to complete. Why was so much money extended on this project, on this street, to this builder? Licata is fresh from pleading guilty to a $19 million bank fraud loan, he couldn’t have walked away from that Meeting House Road fiasco smelling pretty and his local reputation is … challenged.
I think this last house illustrates what went wrong with mortgage lending in this country. Twenty years ago, mortgages were extended by and held by local banks. The bankers knew the players and knew who not to lend to. They knew the streets, they had a good idea of the value each street could support and they were lending their own money. I don’t believe either this Licata Terrace house or Dom DeVito’s scam on Round Hill Road would ever have been funded in 1988. But banks no longer loan their own money and they no longer have a Lloyd Fideo, as Putnam Trust did, to scratch his head and opine, “I just don’t think that fella’s a good risk.” These bombs were financed nationally, spun into slices and sold internationally and no one, anywhere, cared about getting paid back so long as they could pass that risk on to someone else. Now that they can’t do that, now that the loans are coming back, they suddenly care. It’s too late and we’re going to pay a terrible price for that negligence.