Abandoned spec houses

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.

36 Davenport

36 Edgewood Drive


Meeting House Road. This must really cheese Regis every morning.

This must really cheese Regis as he drives by each morning!

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.


Licata Terrace - still time to customize!

Licata Terrace - still time to customize!


Is this really an approved construction technique?

Is this really an approved construction technique?


Filed under Buying/Selling Greenwich Real Estate, Foreclosure

4 responses to “Abandoned spec houses

  1. Anonymous

    “But banks no longer loan their own money”

    That is certainly one of the reasons, among others, we are experiencing the financial woes of the day.

    Clearly, going forward when banks start lending again (some wags might say if) this will not be their approach given the failure of the securitization markets. So that means folks will have to be able to afford their homes again, which translates to fewer qualified buyers, which means less dollars chasing homes. Conclusion: on-going decline in home prices.

    Retired IB’er

  2. Cos Cobber

    Um, isn’t the house you cited as 36 Davenport actually at 36 Edgewood Drive?

  3. christopherfountain

    It certainly is, Cos Cobber and you should know – it was your comment that got me out there in the first place. Fixed now, and thanks – to think that this blog is fueled entirely by caffein!

    By the way, do you remember the hamburger joint the “Cos Cobber” located where Friendly’s was and now Hudson Something Bank is? It beat MacDonalds into town but being first wasn’t enough to hold back that juggernaut.

  4. Cos Cobber

    Chris, my self appointed moniker is a bit misleading. I came to town eight years ago, so the conversion of the Hudson City site from its prior use was before my time. That said, I try to learn as many historical nuggets as a I can (in passing) in order to have a richer context to draw from in understanding our community (past is prologue).

    No worries on the address, in part, I made the comment thinking I may have bubbled the locale or confused it with another idle stone clad psuedo georgian behemoth.

    Anyhow, keep up the good work.