Greg Vedder and his
girlfriend, Tarrah Hirsch, had been hunting for a house to redo after Hurricane
Sandy ripped open the roof of an apartment he owned on West Broadway in Long
Beach one year ago.
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eventually turned to a cluster of properties in the city’s Canals neighborhood,
where a fire tore
through and destroyed seven homes on Barnes and Farrell streets in the
midst of the storm, before Long Beach firefighters prevented the blaze from
potentially transforming the area into another Breezy Point.
They bid on one
property, 46 Barnes, on Multiple Listing Services, but when that fell through
they eyed instead an adjacent lot on Farrell. In April they closed on the
property, which sold for $175,000 according to Trulia.com, and now, one
year after the storm, the couple hope to celebrate Thanksgiving in their new
home that is on the rise.
“It’s been a very
stressful, long year,” Vedder said when he and Hirsch were at the construction
Oct. 17, having driven in from their apartment in Northport to check on the
exterior siding that was installed that day.
Vedder and Hirsch are building a home that will rest on a nine-foot foundation, as requested by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for properties deemed “substantially damaged” in flood zones such as Sandy-ravaged Long Beach. When completed, the home will feature three bedrooms, two full baths, but the ground floor must be devoid of any living space.
“We basically built
it for the next storm,” Hirsch said.
Of the seven homes
the fire destroyed a year ago, only one previous owner will return and rebuild,
a neighbor familiar with the families there told Patch. Vedder said the family
that formerly owned the property he bought decided not to rebuild. “They were
happy to sell,” he added.
Vedder’s property, at 48 Barnes St., Eli Hazen, owner of Hewlett Partners, a Long
Beach-based modular home company, will construct a home for a family that lives
elsewhere in the Canals.
“Their home got pretty wiped out and it’s going to take some time to rebuild, possibly a good two or three years,” Hazen said. “So we’re going to put a modular home [at 48 Barnes] that they can live in and then the owner is probably going to keep it as an investment property thereafter.”
The home will be elevated about eight feet, Hazen said, and depending on the materials used to finish the kitchens and bathrooms, and on other optional features such as high ceilings and fireplaces, the modular home alone can range in price from about $225,000 to $450,000.
The costs for
rebuilding either fire- or flood-damaged homes are tied mostly to all else
surrounding the redevelopment, from demolition of the former structure, to
hiring architects and engineers, to obtaining building permits and complying
with environmental regulations, Hazen said.
Karen Adamo, a
broker with Petrey Realty who will represent a home that will be rebuilt next
door, at 46 Barnes, the property Vedder and Hirsch originally bid on, sold for
$180,000 and the newly constructed home will come with a nearly $700,000 price
brand new home will be FEMA compliant with four bedrooms and three baths,” said
Adamo, who noted that the previous owner left Long Beach.
Along with the West End, the Canals were among the Long Beach neighborhoods that bore the brunt of Sandy’s wrath. Adamo said that of the 25 homes currently on the market in the Canals, 10 remain distressed from the storm. The asking prices of the 25 homes, depending on their condition and location, range from $197,000 to $482,000, two of which are located on canals. “A lot of the other [storm-damaged] homes sold already,” Adamo said.
Nevertheless, on each block in the Canals, there are at least one or two vacant house, or families that are rebuilding, she noted. Hazen said that Canals residents are having a “very tough time, much more so than the West End” rebuilding and returning to their homes. Asked why, Hazen said he still scratches his head trying to figure it out.
He indicated that the gradient in the Canals is more challenging for builders to work with than in the West End, and said that even though the bay waters during Sandy rose in the northeast neighborhood just as high as they did in the west, the base flood elevations that the federal government require homeowners build to is lower in the Canals.
“So it becomes much
more of a challenge trying to get garages and two stories of living space
above,” he said. “The heights in the West End are a little more gracious.”
Homeowners can only rebuild to certain heights, as demanded by city code, and this makes split levels easier to build that two-story homes, Hazen said. Adamo noted that the owners of future FEMA-compliant homes must check the elevations of their properties before rebuilding, since they can vary, typically from eight to 10 feet, even on the same street.
“You have to check your elevation with the building department, and then you have to add the footage,” she said.
Hazen said he has
many projects in the works, and while he is building another modular home in
the Canals, most of his company’s work remains in the West End.