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VOL. 38 | NO. 23 | Friday, June 6, 2014

Infill’s appeal? 2-for-1 house swap enriches Metro tax collections

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John Brittle of Village Real Estate Services is the founding father of InFill Nashville, a group that specializes in locating infill lots or properties on which the current structures are being underutilized.

He then assists developers in the acquisition of those lots and eventually sells the improved property (improved here is used in the technical sense and is an arguable point).

There are the proponents of higher density and smart growth who laud Brittle’s work, and others who have fashioned voodoo dolls in his image. The John Brittle dart board could be a big seller in some areas.

Such is the life of a visionary, especially one who takes action. And Brittle does.

Most recently, he has raised his voice in opposition to the Contextual Overlay District (COD) proposed by Metro Council, a bill Brittle feels “is a zoning tool that is not needed.”

He describes it as a “one-size-fits-all approach to applying design standards to a neighborhood,” and goes on to say that “although it is called a ‘contextual’ overlay, it has a prescribed set of standards that only look at the context of the neighbors on either side for setbacks, height, and footprints.”

Therefore, if there were a string of five houses in a row that were three houses removed from the property being evaluated, they would be ignored.

Brittle argues that the Urban Design Overlay (UDO) now in place already deals with this issue. He notes that “when applying a UDO to neighborhood, there is thoughtful and specific consideration to what is already there and what is valued by the neighborhood.”

With Nashville’s growth inevitable, and sprawl and transit challenges looming, higher density is vital to the equation.

Sale of the Week

This sale would not have occurred if the COD had been in place, and what a shame that would have been since this property provides ammunition for those opposed to the COD.

The home in question is located at 4015A Estes in Green Hills. This 4,423-square-foot house sold for $885,000 some 68 days after entering the market. It has four bedrooms, four bathrooms along with a half bath. There are hardwoods, granite, designer colors and it was meticulously landscaped.

The other photograph shows the house formerly known as 4015 Estes, a house that was demolished in order to have two lots on the property. While everyone is entitled to their own tastes, in the minds of many, 4015A and its sister 4015B, the sum of the parts, are an improvement over what 4015 was as a whole.

One group that might find it an improvement would be members of the Metro Government Office of Finance and the finance committee of Metro Council.

A simple, though perhaps imperfect, rule of thumb for Metro property taxes is that they are approximately 1 percent of the property’s value. For example, the old 4015 Estes sold for $339,000 and the taxes were $3,449.

Utilizing that formula, 4015A will eventually put about $8,850 into Metro coffers. Its little sister, 4015B, could fetch another $8,000, hereby increasing the tax revenues for the property from $3,449 to $16,850, a difference of $13,410.

If that scenario were to be repeated 1,000 times, it could deliver $13,401,000 to the bottom line. If 3,000 units occurred, it could be $40 million.

With that kind of dough, listing agent Thomas Williams could make some biscuits.

Williams has two lives, one dedicated to residential real estate, where he prospers, and he is the co-founder of Cornbread Consulting, where he shares his culinary knowledge with members of the Southern Foodways Alliance, among others.

Williams has a pocketful of favorite eating spots unknown to many in the area, and this has increased his popularity among buyers who schedule their house hunting around meal time.

One of these is Franklin’s Halfway Market, with fried catfish and frog legs on the first and third Fridays of each month.

He also is a fan of the breakfast at the Beacon Light Restaurant in Bon Aqua.

As for a meat-and-threes, he agrees with most of humanity that Arnold’s (605 8th Avenue S.) is the best. For generally hanging out, he recommends the Jam Coffeehouse at Wedgewood and 12th and the Ugly Mug in East Nashville.

Missy Brower of Zeitlin delivered the buyer, and Chris Harwell of Tarkington co-listed the house with Williams. Both were unavailable for comment as they do not talk with their mouths full.

Richard Courtney is affiliated with Christianson, Patterson, Courtney, and Associates and can be reached at richard@richardcourtney.com

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