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View from The Front Porch by Pam Anderson Gard, February 2001 PDF  | Print |

Hyde Park was the happening place in October of 1978 when Jeff and I bought our first house at 3643 Campbell. The couple before had done a partial restoration, it was clean and . . . oh the woodwork? We purchased if for 4500.00 over the list price of $37,000. The market was changing rapidly and we decided to look for a bigger house that needed more rehab. (We needed that like a hole in the head.) We listed the house and our good neighbor Bob Cody bought it. I remember thinking that the value would not increase much. But it has! With the improvements Bob has made it should be on the homes tour, hint hint.

In 1980, we purchased our current home at 3608 Campbell for $44,000. Eighteen months before it had sold for $12,000. We paid at least 25% more than the old girl was worth but fortunately the neighborhood values have continued to support our new furnaces, roofs, kitchens and on, and on. We soon discovered that, like us, many of our neighbors were eating plaster dust and washing their dishes wherever they could find running hot water. Front porch sitting was the way to obtain free group therapy and the names of plumbers, electricians and other contractors.

On January 4, 1981, I began my career in Real Estate as an agent for KCOne. Two weeks later I sold my first house . . . 3115 Charlotte for a total of $19,000. Paul and Julie Rieck were my patient buyers. I was involved in twenty-one transactions that year and my total volume was barely over $1,000,000. That is an average of $47,600 per home. Hyde park has sure come a long way since then.

North Hyde Park had not yet seen very much activity, but Jim and Lisa Merrill changed that when they bought 3328 Harrison. They were instrumental in north Hyde Park&resquo;s resurgence especially when they began restoring houses as a business. The exorbitant interest rates of 1983 put an end to that. Fro example, a $55,000 mortgage at 17% interest affords a payment of 4822.00 (PITI). That same loan today would have a monthly payment of $465 (PITI). Agents rapidly learned how to do all kinds of fancy financing during those years. Owner finance, Wrap-arounds, Contract for Deed—I shudder to think of it.

When I met my good friends don and Mary Lou Wilkins in 1983 it was to show them 716 Gleed Terrace. I needed gas in my car so we stopped at a gas station in the neighborhood where Don was propositioned and invited to a “party”, and solicited to buy watches out of a gentleman’s jacket. Thank goodness the Wilkins were intrigued by this marketing method and ended up being terrific neighbors. Through the efforts of many the neighborhood is no longer wild and crazy.

616 E. 36th street was offered for sale in the mid 80’s and the Kansas City Historic Foundation bought it. I remember chicken bones and fast food bags—inside and out. The basement was half dirt floor. The kitchen area was a pit and literally the house was almost ready for he wrecking ball. The neighborhood rejoiced that what was obviously a fabulous house would soon be restored. Tim and Terry Stockwell bought the house before it was completed and added many of their own finishing touches. I worried about the appraisal because the Foundation had sunk a sizable sum into the restoration. That restoration was a pivotal change in the neighborhood and had an immediate effect on the escalating values.

Armour Boulevard was in serious trouble. The Wrenmore, Senate, Armour and Empire (Ritz) apartment buildings were in horrible shape and the expense to take them down was considerable. There was another even more horrible building at the corner of Armour and Charlotte that looked like it had been through a war. They’re gone now at great expense to the city and the neighborhood values have reflected that change.

The whole neighborhood began to look better because many of the houses had new driveways and fewer occupants so the cars were not parked bumper to bumper on the streets. Residents were sprucing up the landscaping and planting new trees and flowers. Grass instead of crab grass—what a difference.

In recent years my customers have marveled at the amount of restoration most of our houses have been through. They say things like “Oh, surely this one was never in bad shape” and all I can think of is how awful it had looked with that nasty old bathroom in the dining room in 1981. Not to mention the mess the homeless person made when he took up residence because there was no lock on the back door of the then vacant house. One of my favorites was egg cartons glued to the ceiling of the dining room of 3653 Harrison. Did you know that egg cartons are great for acoustics? You learn something every day.

Of course, the most celebrated change is the opening of or Costco store. WOW! Our neighborhoods own Jim Glover is the guy who made it happen, so a band of Hyde parkers were there for the ribbon cutting ceremony with GLOVER FOR PRESIDENT signs. Thanks Jim!

This month I am celebrating twenty years in the business of selling Hyde Park homes. The neighborhood is very different than it was on January 4rh, 1981. Reflecting on the change makes me wonder what it will look like when I am 90 years old and my children take away the car keys thereby restricting my ability to sell these extraordinary houses. Time will tell.