The Housing Chronicles Blog: More on the demolished homes in Victorville

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

More on the demolished homes in Victorville

L.A. Times reporter Peter Hong recently took up the story of what happened with those demolished homes in the high desert city of Victorville. From his article:

The homes were part of a planned 16-unit project in this community 100 miles north of Los Angeles. The Texas bank that owns the failed development decided to demolish the houses, a cheaper alternative to completing and selling them...

The Victorville demolition is one of the most dramatic ends to a bad bet made during the housing boom, but abandoned developments have become an all-too-common sight in California. Nearly 250 residential developments totaling 9,389 homes have been halted across the state, according to one research firm...

Officials of Guaranty Bank of Austin, Texas, which took over the development last year, were unavailable for comment. But Victorville city spokeswoman Yvonne Hester said the bank decided not to throw good money after bad.

"It just didn't pencil out for them," she said. "They'd have to spend a lot of money to turn around and sell the houses. They just made a financial decision to just demolish them."

The development was in a part of town remote even for Victorville, a wind-swept high desert city of about 100,000 residents. A dozen of the homes were in various stages of construction. Some had frames erected, and a few others had drywall hung, said Jorge Duran, Victorville's code enforcement manager.

The four finished homes, however, were richly appointed with granite countertops, whirlpool bathtubs and dual-pane windows...

Ron Willemsen, president of Intravaia Rock and Sand, the Montclair company handling the demolition, said he was glad to see people finding uses for the materials. But wrecking a pristine house troubled him.

"It's a waste of a lot of resources and perfectly good construction," he said.

Willemsen, whose family has run the business for 50 years, said it was the first time the firm had demolished a new housing project to return a potential neighborhood to soil.

In addition, The Wall Street Journal's Michael Corkery also covered this story in a video report:

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