Friday, March 31, 2006

The Mica Condo Developers Must Love Me

If you do a Google Search for 'Mica Condos' you get the following first returns:

The Bubble Meter Blog is number 1, and the official website of Mica Condos is number 10th. I bet the condo developers just love me. Super. Let the truth be told that these condo units are overpriced and are not selling well. The condo market in the DC area is bubblicious.


  1. Looks like its time for them to invest in some search engine optimization.

    Perhaps they could trade a plasma TV for the service.

  2. What's a google search got to do with anything? Why do you hate these people who made a bad decision in developing those unsightly condos? Seriously, stop being so negative on people who had a business idea that might fail (or not, depending on the margins they built into the condos).

    By the way, I went to the Logan Station condo open house and that was packed with people who bought into those condos. Say what you want about a bubble but I don't see it yet.

  3. Fred,

    I can't speak for David. My problem with the housing bubble is that only a small segment of society benefits from this crazy real estate market.

    The real estate agents.

    The mortgage lenders with their shady interest-only options, ARMs, and other exotic loan packages.

    The housing construction and real estate lobbying cabal.

    Investors who flip properties.

    These people are pumping the housing prices to artificial heights. Of course, un-educated consumers are contributing to this housing bubble by believing the real estate industry cheerleaders. Those cheerleaders tell you that interest-rates won't stay low forever and demand will keep pushing housing prices. Real estate offers the best return on your investment! Buy now! Sounds just like the Dot.Com stock era of the late 1990s right?

    Middle and working class America will get burned. Many low-to-moderate income families are priced out of the homeowner market thanks to the bubble. Many people who are under-employed are living out of their cars and homeless shelters in record numbers.

    The economic damage from a housing bubble burst will hurt so many people. The Housing Bubble is an injustice!

  4. "Why do you hate these people who made a bad decision in developing those unsightly condos? Seriously, stop being so negative on people who had a business idea that might fail (or not, depending on the margins they built into the condos)."

    I do NOT Hate the developers. I dislike their actions. They are trying to sell people overpriced products that will depreciate over the next few years. It is a bad deal. Look at equivalent rents.

    Some of the buyers will be financially runied for many years. 290K studios in downtown Silver Spring, MD are absurd at this point.

  5. Silver Spring is going to be an interesting place in like 5 years. I have lived in SS since 2001 and I have witnessed noticeable changes.

    What will happen to City Place Mall? What will happen to the independent local retailers and ethnic restauranteurs in downtown Silver Spring?

    I don't think Montgomery County envisioned Silver Spring as the next, big White Yuppie thing. Silver Spring is one of the few suburban locations that has tremendous diversity of races and ethnicities.

    Ultimately, I think the White (and to lesser extent Asian)Yuppification of Silver Spring will be less successful than the developers have hoped. Discovery Channel employees drive their Acuras, BMWs, and Lexuses home to places like Bethesda, Rockville, Arlington, Northwest DC.

    Furthermore, there's only so many white and Asian yuppies to go around. They are happy staying in places like Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Potomac, Rockville and other fine areas of Montgomery County.

    Here's a novel idea for the Montgomery County Economic Development office: provide gobs of incentives for developers to build stores and condos for middle and lower class families. Provide subsidies and grants for minority entrepreneurs to locate businesses in Silver Spring. A Vanilla Yuppie Silver Spring would be like another Bethesda.

  6. I don't think that gentrification is happening very quickly in Silver Spring, and it might not happen at all. I went to SS on Friday with my wife and my sister and brother in law. We saw The Inside Man at the Majestic Theater and ate a quick dinner at Chipotle. We saw a 7:30 show and got out around 9:30 or so. When we came out of the theater there were hundreds of people (mostly african-american teenagers) hanging around in the pedestrian walkway and on the sidewalks. A fight started. 2 girls. All these kids ran over to watch the fight! Hundreds of people were watching and cheering, etc. Not one person attempted to break up the fight, even at the very beginning of it which could have been successful. It became a serious mob seen where the 4 of us were concerned for our safety and the safety of others. I tried to call the cops, but got a recording! And this was in Montgomery County. The cops came and their sirens went and all these kids (that were only guilty of watching a fight) ran for it. It was scary to see a mob close up in action. I have yet to see this kind of thing happen in Bethesda or Adams Morgan or Potomac or Chevy Chase (where I did see a fight on St. Patty's day at 4 Provinces which was dealt with quickly and stopped. And the people in the bar all only wanted to stop the fight, not cheer it on.)

    This makes me think twice about going to Silver Spring again and would really make me think twice about spending $290k for a efficiency.

  7. David,

    Have you thought about advertising for them? I'm sure they would welcome the opportunity to have a link from your site to theirs so they can give the "full picture" to potential buyers.


  8. I was once a former resident of Springwood Apartments (now MICA Condos), and the things McWilliams Ballard put us through in the six months prior to my wife and I finally ridding ourselves of that horrible place are hard to describe. In short, it was like living in a construction site. Elderly residents had no place to sit down in the lobby due to the furniture being removed. The residents had to continually put up with 2-3 day water outages at least twice a month for the better part of three months, and the dust and debris from the construction resulted in respiratory problems for a portion of what was once our community. The building never stunk beforehand, and although admittedly not the nicest place you could imagine, it was fantastic for both its location and friendly atmosphere. Before McWilliams Ballard and MICA Condos bastardized the place in the name of trying to capitalize on the condo boom (which has since gone bust - my wife and I drove by there the other night, and it seems 100% vacant), it was quite a catch amid other high-priced apartments.
    Then the construction began - resulting in plenty of noise, dust, water outages - even an explosion in the lobby! (Thanks to some bumbling contractors hired to do work on the gas lines). All efforts to contact McWilliams Ballard failed, as the woman in charge was always conveniently out of the office, and in fact, the MICA people (who had begun to set up shop during the construction) even left the premises because of all the annoyance caused by the contruction, leaving the remaining residents without recourse.
    And don’t even get me started on Jason, that self-serving ignorant excuse for a man, and the principal contact for people who attended the varied open houses and condo-selling “parties” that MICA set up. What I want to say about him is best left unsaid.
    There are currently multiple lawsuits and complaints filed or being filed against McWilliams Ballard, the contractors, and various other entities involved in the tragedy that is MICA Condominiums.
    Be advised.

  9. I was a former resident at Springwood too, and think that the developers made a miscalculation and got greedy. If they had offered residents a better deal on a purchase (their best offer was 5% on your unit "as-is", i.e., no deal at all), more residents might have purchased units and there would be fewer units to try to sell in this market slow-down.

    That said, they are performing major renovations on the building, so the above complaints are unfair, because if the model units and the development plans are any indication, this should be a fine building when all is said and done. The shell of the building is solid, unlike some of the cardboard construction I've seen around the neighborhood lately (Silverton and 8045 Newell), and I always loved the spaciousness and layout of my apartment. As far as being 100% vacant, I assume that is because delivery isn't due until later this year.

  10. I hope they crash and burn, and perhaps some of these lawsuits finally hit home.

    What they were doing was illegal, and Jason even admitted it.

    My wife was in the elevator with him, and she casually said, "You know what you're doing here is illegal, right?"

    What does he say?

    "Good luck proving it."

    Too bad for him, a few residents with connections with the city and council DO have documentation, photos, written reports and the like, and there's been an investigative article written for some major D.C. newspapers.

    Time will tell... I hope the place falls apart.

  11. Oh, and anon former resident, you should check out Riverside Park in Alexandria. That's where my wife and I moved to. For $300 more a month, we got a MUCH larger apartment with a second bedroom AND bathroom, in an ideal location (not as walking convenient as Springwood, but can still walk to the metro).

    It's quiet, spacious, the residents are friendly, and it's actually got a legitimate fitness center, in all three buildings.


  13. Is the condo market in DC still in trouble?