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My house (the pink cottage in the garden) and my neighbors house (the yellow one) has been on my mind ever since a rich developer bought the yellow house 3 years ago and has been working on turning it into a monster home. I live on 20th Street in a historic district and never in my wildest dreams had I imagined that a  developer would dare to triple the size of the footprint of this old Victorian from 1870 (from 2300, see pic 2,3&5, to 7200sqft pic 4,6,8) by digging 25ft into the ground, building the 2nd unit underground on top of a huge garage (1 & 2nd layer of drawing on pic 5) and adding 2 big boxes on the south side toward my cottage. Yes, developers, no matter how wealthy they are and how much civic consciousness they proclaim (Justin McBaine’s father once was the president of the International Film Festival and his son, the developer of the yellow house, does show up at cultural events), they will put a monster house into the smallest lot as long as they get the permits. And that was the biggest shock for me, the Historic Preservation Committee approved the plans. At the first meeting they acted as if they did not like the deep pit and the big boxes. I was hopeful. But a few months later something had changed. Suddenly they only cared about the facade and were happy with minor changes — smaller window, “gracefully” terraced pit (that now takes away most of the garden), slightly lower decks. What happened? And what about me? Living in the oldest (1867), smallest (1000 sqft) house on the block and the only one in the back of the garden right next to the yellow house. Too bad for that woman in the cottage, said one of the commissioners, but this is life in the City, get used to it.  Of course, I could appeal the decision – hire a lawyer, pay a ton of money and in the end the developer will get what he wanted – he has done it many times before all over the city, knows the commissioners. No chance for people like me. I can sell my house to him, yes, he suggested it, and then move to a place where I can live in peace and quiet, far away from life in the City, from movies, concerts, opera, theater, swimming pools, friends and from greedy developers.

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