Holdouts who refuse to sell their "nail houses" to developers

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In the US, the city would probably just exercise eminent domain - proving that in “communist” China, private property rights are stronger than in the USA…


Some of those buildings look like they would be unstable with adjoining buildings torn down. I know in new york, those older buildings in rows need the support. This happened because of that type of situation: http://gothamist.com/2012/07/02/brownstone_collapse.php


that last house is in Seattle. It actually just sold, or is pending sale. http://www.seattlepi.com/local/article/Sale-pending-on-Edith-Macefield-Up-house-in-6244305.php


This brings back memories. I had a crazy relative who did this a long time ago… They left her house and ran the highway right past it. I suppose they might have had to move it to miss her house. She was a “cat lady” who had 10s of cats and also 10s of spinning wheels. Why, I don’t know. I think she was also the 1st woman to be ordained in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, but women weren’t allowed to preach. Why they ordained her I don’t know. This is my heritage, I admit it.


Not a house, but Hess Triangle in New York is an example where the city used eminent domain, but missed a small section:


Seattle’s history reaches further back than Edith Macefield - http://www.seattlepi.com/local/seattle-history/slideshow/The-Denny-regrade-in-Seattle-31845.php

As an aside, it bugs me every time she gets brought up as an example of sticking it to the man and not letting unwanted development occur. She had zero interest in that aspect of it. She simply didn’t want to move because she was old. She didn’t want to sell, even for a bajillion dollars, because she had no heirs. Her story is not nearly as compelling as everyone makes it out to be.
The endgame of course, is that she died, leaving her now condemned house in the middle of a new building, with more debt on it than it’s worth. The recent sale follows a few others which all lead to the owners walking away from it as it’s more work and expense than could ever be recouped. It looks more like this now, except the fence is all covered in deflated balloons.
I certainly don’t fault her for it, it was her house to do with as she wanted, but I don’t share the reverence that everyone seems to have for her.


Carl Fredricksen should have navigated to china instead. Nice little homage on Edith’s house there.

Edit: Of course i posted this mere moments before i saw the state it’s in now… does that mean it now won’t be going to paradise falls? :sob:


Eminent domain is all fun and games and public good, until it happens to you.

This makes it even more compelling. Plain activism can be cheesy. She was genuinely going for what she wanted. It’s the results that count, much more than the motivations behind.


Here’s an example from Washington, DC (go to slide picture 7). This property recently turned into a Le Pain Quotidien after being basically abandoned for years.

The owner was offered up to $3 million, but it wasn’t good enough, and eventually it foreclosed for $800,000.

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The third-to-last picture with the road going around the house has a couple “There, I fixed it” ideas going on.


I really want a mod for Cities Skylines that requires you pay off the owners of each individual thing you want to bulldoze and randomly have nail houses occur from the ones that just refuse to sell.


Same thing in Portland, but in 1949. Remember being fascinated by this house as a kid.


Narita Airport has only one runway that can handle heavy aircraft (there ia another shorter runway) because of farmers who refuse to sell.

I will have to bring this out to show to libertarians who don’t realize that most of their property value comes from the connections that it has to the world. The road to your house goes away, the utilities are shut off, and your home is no longer structurally stable, and inevitably the value of your property drops to a fraction. All without violating those sacred property rights.


And that’s exactly why island systems (electricity today, water recycling perhaps tomorrow) are of such importance.

But what are the results? It being a pain in the butt to redevelop established areas? And therefore an increased tendency for cities to sprawl outwards while inner areas become neglected slums?

We defend by default the people who are there first, but we don’t think about the families living in temporary accommodation waiting for their apartment to be built, the people unemployed because their workplace hasn’t been completed? Their plight is simply less photographically dramatic.

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She can die in peace in the house she lived in for decades, without being forcefully uprooted. Without having to give up her place just because of Another Road, Another Shopping Mall, or Another Office Building.

The new developments are usually posh apartments for the rich or semi-rich who can afford to go elsewhere, or posh corporate buildings that can be as well built elsewhere.

The house in question is not some unused, owned-for-speculation property. It is an actively occupied house with a real inhabitant.


I should point out that developers and government work pretty hard to avoid conflict and pay fair compensation precisely because private property laws are so strong. Things like the Narita Airport war are a nightmare no governor or developer wants.


There was one of these in the 90’s on the West Seattle waterfront, two nail housed surrounded on three sides by a 6 story condo. How does a planning board sign off on such things?