Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The 22 Million Bubblicious 'Donation'

October 31, 2006 D.C.: Centex Abandons Pricey Suburb Project

Dallas-based Centex Homes, which had offered 8,000-resident Warrenton, Va., a cash donation of $22 million to approve its request to build 300 homes on a 500-acre property, has backed out of the deal.

Affordable housing supporters had called the donation a bribe, saying such projects drive home prices up and suburban sprawl farther into the country.

But the town was delighted and intended to use the money to pay off debt on a new aquatic center. "It was kind of a win-win for everybody," said George B. Fitch, Warrenton's mayor. "I assumed that they had done their homework, that they saw the downturn coming and still thought it was a viable project."

Centex Division President Robert K. Davis informed the town of its decision to abandon the project by letter, saying building these houses whose prices start at $850,000 was no longer economically feasible

Source: The Washington Post, Sandhya Somashekhar (10/31/2006)


  1. I hope Fauquier County sticks to its guns and keeps development low, and insists on high payments from developers when it does allow development. I have always liked Fauquier- it's beautiful, low population density, etc. It's too far away from the jobs for me to consider living there right now, but who knows, maybe someday.

    Of course, if they start putting in cheaply-made townhouses and charging half a million, forget it.

    A Redskins fan

  2. I'm from Warrenton and now live in Fairfax, but have been following this story for a while. They actually pulled out over a month and half ago. The Warrenton town counsel acted like a bunch of pre-madonnas after they were sent the letter. It was a total bribe all along, but the problem was that it was something that the process began about two years ago and of course times have changed. The The bribe to increase density was always too good to be true and every person on the counsel knew it was just unbelievable that someone would give the town that much cash. The counsel should be ashamed of their actions. They acted like a bunch of weasels who had gotten the best of a giant corporation when they accepted the deal. Anyone with any type of common sense would have done their own due diligence and just run some simple numbers and would have seen the feasability of project was a joke. Now, they have dirty dirty mud all over their greedy little faces. I am laughing so hard right now that the story finally got picked up by the Post. They need to mention every member of the counsel as well. They're the ones responsible for the mess, not Mayor Fitch.

  3. THAT's $73,000. per house JUST to get permission to build! AMAZING!

  4. Fannie Mae outsourced their IT people today. It was a nice surprise

  5. No wonder we cant get affordable housing in America.. that about $75,000 per house....

    Why not ask for zero and lower the price by $75K and make it for lower income people like me.

  6. anon asked:
    "Why not ask for zero and lower the price by $75K and make it for lower income people like me."

    You've raised a valid question. It is one that has been debated forever and will probably continue to be debated forever. All housing everywhere would be a lot lot cheaper if we just allowed anything to be built anywhere ... But the problem here is that this comes with a cost associated to it. If you own a house and it is next door to two other single family houses, wouldn't you lose some of your quality of life if a developer came by and tore down the two houses adjacent to you and replaced them each with a 10 story apartment building? The $75K/house being collected in this case was probably viewed as a way of recompensing existing homeowners for a similar type loss to the quality of life they would otherwise enjoy. The council probably sold the community on the idea of allowing this "overbuilding" by saying that with the $22M the town would be able to build a sports complex, maybe construct sewer and water lines (in place of septic tanks and wells), etc. etc. The discussion is definitely a debate. When you're looking to buy an affordable house, it's easy enough to say "no, that shouldn't be allowed because it pushes up the price", and when you already own a house it's easy enough to say "no, they shouldn't let them build here without recompensing me for taking away my quality of life". The reality is that both sides are right, and compromise is necessary.