OPINION: Meriden’s time-traveling subdivision

OPINION: Meriden’s time-traveling subdivision

There’s a curious case over on the east side of Meriden, where work is underway on a 13-lot subdivision. Curious for a couple of reasons. One is that there is not a lot of room to roam in Meriden when it comes to new development. As the Record-Journal noted in a recent story, Meriden is a city that’s “considered land poor.”

It’s hardly a secret that this is a time to sell. It’s a time to sell because people are ready to buy, and when you don’t have a lot to show it can be a bummer for homebuyers and real estate agents alike.

“As soon as I get a listing, I get four to eight bids,” Joe Criscuolo told the Record-Journal’s Mary Ellen Godin. Criscuolo is owner of the Home Store, in Wallingford.

It’s a good time to be a seller, but also a good time to be a buyer, he noted, because mortgage rates are low.

You could say they’d been doing the limbo, those mortgage rates — how low could they go?

Another curious part about the east-side subdivision, which is at the corner of Williams and Genest streets and called Sunset Ridge (which I hope refers to the view) is that it was approved in 2006. That’s a long time between approval and construction.

You may remember 2006, or you may not, at least not so well. I took the liberty of looking it up: Sandra Day O’Connor retired from the Supreme Court and was replaced by Samuel Alito. The Steelers won the Super Bowl. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter made it to Mars. The first ever tweet was sent out by Jack Dorsey. Iran announced it had successfully enriched uranium. And, in case it slipped your mind, George W. Bush was president. That makes it seem a long time ago. So does this: Tiger Woods winning major championships was something at the time you could call routine.

Even recent history can seem a long time ago, and after more than a year of the coronavirus, life before it started can seem even more far away, I’d say. There’s time before the virus; there’s time after the virus. Two worlds, one place.

Getting back to Sunset Ridge: The subdivision that got approved when Tiger Woods won for the third time The Open (called the British Open in the colonies), was good for nine years. When that ran out, it was given a five-year extension by the city Planning Commission. Hardly a detail, I’d also say, is that the initial approval came not too long before the housing bubble burst and ushered in the Great Recession.

All of which makes that subdivision a hardy little time traveler.

The details are worth exploring because they look good for the city.  As the R-J reported: Sunset Ridge is on about eight acres and will have 13 homes on lots of various sizes. The city gets more than 23,000 feet of open space, and another 13,000 feet split between two lots that will be a conservation area next to the city land. This might not seem like a lot, but in Meriden it’s a lot.

Also in the story about the little subdivision that could was the following observation: “Local real estate agents took notice of the bidding wars during the summer when out-of-state buyers were making offers that were at least $20,000 over the asking price. They said it wasn’t unusual to have a dozen offers on a single home.”

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the landscape, you could say. Sandra Maier Schede, a former president of the Connecticut Realtors Association, told the R-J’s Godin that people who were cooped up are “saying they want a yard.”

“There are a lot of out-of-town and out-of-state buyers that feel that because they can work from home, they can work from anywhere,” she said.

So even though it took so long, turns out Sunset Ridge exercised excellent timing.

Reach Jeffery Kurz at 203-317-2213, or jkurz@record-journal.com.

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