Matthew Brown has restored three historic houses in Raleigh, and has assisted with the restoration of many others. He has financed renovation of six houses for affordable housing.

Matthew writes today on the topic of revaluation of properties:

I have received notice of the new valuation of my house. Like many Raleighites, I was amazed at the increase in its value, which will translate into a higher tax bill. I will count my blessings, however, because the increase in value indicates that I live in a prosperous neighborhood in a prosperous city. In Detroit and Cleveland and other cities, there are neighborhoods in which the houses are literally worthless; entire neighborhoods have been abandoned and bulldozed. Can you imagine seeing your city and neighborhood decay around you?

But for many people, an increase in value does not indicate prosperity. It indicates that the property is in an area that has become desirable for redevelopment or gentrification. This is true for many neighborhoods in Raleigh. The proposed upzoning of 744 properties in East Raleigh to five stories will cause those properties to have a higher market value and tax bill, but it will not mean that the current residents are more prosperous. They may be forced to move out due to the higher tax bill.

And of course there is such a thing as TOO prosperous. Some cities and neighborhoods have become so expensive that only the very wealthy can live there. Parts of New York and San Francisco, for example, were once fascinating and lively places, but are now rather dull, because the residents spend all their time working to make their millions.

Another problem arises when land values soar to the point that buildings on the land are in danger of demolition and replacement by larger buildings. This can result in the loss of architectural and cultural treasures.

A neighborhood is most fortunate when it is somewhere in the middle: Prosperous enough that residents can live in safety, and find it worthwhile to maintain their homes, but not so prosperous that residency is determined only by income, and the soul of the neighborhood is lost.

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