Thursday, November 5, 2015

What Is Austin Worth?

Austin Elementary is the center of quite the soap opera these days. The recent politician-turned-educator acting as DCSD superintendent is being quoted as voicing commitment to keep Austin at its current site and partly as a consequence, at or near current size. More recently there has been some suggestion to vacate the shadow of the power lines in favour of the ball fields but that may just be crazy talk.

Or maybe not.

Now we have a new superintendent, a for-real educational professional and we're starting to hear about "somewhere within a three mile radius" which if one assumes the school is to be located in DeKalb County loosely translates to "somewhere closer to the Mall." And we're hearing more and more about super-sizing to the arm-twisting cum mandated size of 900-1000 students.

Neighborhood school no more.

There have been lamentations over the end of Walk To School Wednesdays [do they still do that?] and no small effort directed towards convincing parents at nearby schools that lines would be re-drawn moving them out of their home school.

Then it got interesting.

After a rousing debate on the relative merits of faux stacked stone vs faux hardy plank siding the good folks at the DHA (our shadow government) heard from Fran "The Man" Millar on the impact of potential changes at Austin. "This is a big deal. If that school is moved from that area, then that will have an effect on house prices. If you affect one of the more affluent sections of Dunwoody, it's going to affect everybody."

Wow. Admittedly that is quite a bit of politician-speak but there is something in that to offend just about everyone.

Let's start with the incomplete comparison: "one of the more affluent sections of Dunwoody." Not knocking the price points in Redfield, but come on, there are more homes in that area that do not command Redfield premiums than those that do. And has the good Senator checked out the prices in Deerfield East? Or what about those Bill Grant Clutter Homes? Zillow reports some pricey condos on Happy Hollow, quite a haul from Austin. Now if those Parkway Condos go up the Austin area will see  something of a boost as these are likely to come on the market at well over $250/sq. ft. But really, "one of the most affluent?" Hardly.

Then there is the FUD: "If that school is moved from that area, then that will have an effect on house prices." Really? Which way? Would nearby home prices go up or go down, and why? Seems like the kind of assumption that brought us natural gas deregulation and the Iran nuclear deal. Why not move it towards the higher apartment density? Isn't that where the Millennials want to live? Seems to be at least fifty percent of what we hear from City Hall these days. And aren't they just a bit more likely to have young 'uns? Maybe homes in the former Austin area would become much more attractive to Old Farts, the other demographic City Hall cannot shut up about, and they might pay quite a bit for a ready-to-reno Dunwoody Four Four and a Door. Just think, they can convert the den and living room into a Masterful Retreat on Main, knock down the walls between the Kitchen, Eat-In and Dining Rooms for an Open Concept and only go upstairs to dust and chase out the spiders. It would be just like the Parkway Condos minus the hardy plank and with a back yard.

Maybe Fran is right. Maybe if Austin were moved closer to the Millennial Zone with the other apartment kids there will be "an effect on the house prices" in "one of the most affluent sections of Dunwoody." Maybe prices will skyrocket.