Saturday, October 25, 2008

Green Acres (is the place to be)


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Everyone knows Palmer Woods. Don't they? Okay, not everybody. Fine, we'll get into it. There's time.

Occupying the densely wooded (the name isn't just a sales tool) tract at the corner of 7 Mile and Woodward across from the fairgrounds, Palmer Woods is inarguably one of the most ridiculous neighborhoods standing in a Rust Belt city today, with luxurious lot sizes and ornate residential architecture.

We are talking homes like the ones you see on those starfucking bus tours in Los Angeles, except without the obligatory team of Mexicans doing the lawn. This is the kind of architecture that folks like to copy today, mostly on the cheap, in places like Birmingham and Bloomfield Hills.

It's a great place, Palmer Woods, but as far as spending your money goes, coughing up for a house here, in this turbulent economy, might be somewhat unwise.

The same cannot be said for Palmer Woods' neighbor to the northwest. That would be Green Acres, of course. As modest as Palmer is ostentatious, the district is bordered by Livernois to the west, 8 Mile to the north, Pembroke Avenue to the south and the expansive Woodlawn Cemetery to the east.

Green Acres is slightly newer, which in Detroit tends to mean it popped up just a little closer to WWII. You've seen the homes, at least a variation on them, in many places around town and in many older American suburbs. What makes Green Acres these days though, is its pleasant atmosphere.

Certain neighborhoods around town are, of course, far more impressive, visually. Palmer Woods for one, Indian Village, Boston-Edison. Those areas, however, are in many ways held back by being too fabulous. (Unfortunately, in Detroit there is such a thing.) It's harder to fill homes that amazing nowadays. Even Sherwood Forest, more modest than the above, is still a little fancy. (Though there's no denying the SF homes their due - they are incredible.)

Green Acres is just, well, nice. It feels lived in and, better still, it feels loved. Also, Detroit claims many a lovely jungle doubling as a neighborhood - this jungle feels better kept than many. Right now, this jungle also happens to be very affordable.

How affordable? Currently, Green Acres has listings at or under $20,000, with only one or two homes even approaching or going over $200K. 'Twasn't always so.

Take, for example, this excellent listing. Do you want for a 3 BR, 1,700 sq. ft. home on (IMHO) the neighborhood's nicest street, Lichfield, which backs up to the cemetery? You might want to get on that.

Because we are talking Detroit, it is worth noting that there aren't masses of listings at the moment - Trulia.com has Green Acres at just 10 sales and about 18 foreclosures. That isn't great, but it's slightly (slightly!) better than the norm among other so-called "stable" areas of the city just now.

Amenities! Green Acres has them. We are not talking about wig shops, either, though there are one or two of those out on Livernois, where there is also the Foxy Den, a lingerie shop. All things being relative, though, Livernois between 7 and 8 Mile is easier on the eyes than most Detroit commercial strips with any life left in them. Plus, Baker's Keyboard Lounge is there.

Residents are also a fairly easy walk or bike ride from downtown Ferndale. Kind of the best of both worlds, if you happen to like Ferndale but want to also have magical Detroit voting powers. Now all you have to do is get that re-assessment/tax break and you're good.

PS: There were pix. They were not sexypix, alas. Next time.

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