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Study: 'McMansions' Small Percentage of Raleigh Building

Posted April 2, 2008
Updated April 3, 2008

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— Replacing older homes with gargantuan new ones amounted to a tiny fraction of the residential construction in Raleigh in recent years, according to a new city study.

Raleigh officials released the findings hours before a public hearing at 6 p.m. Wednesday on how to best regulate infill building in the city.

City planners studied building and demolition permits in Raleigh from 2002 to 2007 and found that 656 of the 24,187 homes built in the city during that time were replacements for older homes. More than half of those 656 replacements were smaller than 4,000 square feet, including 26 percent that were under 2,000 square feet, the study found.

Most of the infill has occurred northwest of downtown in neighborhoods inside the Interstate 440 Beltline. Some residents have complained that large, new homes – they are often called "McMansions" – have damaged the character of their neighborhoods, prompting city officials to begin studying the issue last year.

Mayor Charles Meeker suggested limiting the size of new homes built on lots where older homes had been razed, but he later backed off the proposal amid intense opposition from residents and builders.

The City Council's Comprehensive Planning Committee in January created more Neighborhood Conservation Overlay Districts, where individual neighborhoods could establish their own building standards.

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  • Clare Apr 3, 2008

    By the way, good luck if your neighborhood decides to overlay itself and impose whatever limitations are important to you and yours. I would be thrilled if your neighborhood takes on the burden of the overlay and mine doesn't. Then we can see how it pans out for you all in 8-10 years. Better yours than mine. Let the future market decide which is the more desirable.

  • Clare Apr 3, 2008

    You are not talking to a development person. You are talking to technology sales person who has some knowledge of business and economics. You are also talking to a person who spent hard earned money on a "fixer-upper" who would like the opportunity to expand/tear-down (if I so choose) and build within the confines of my property without having to go to some HOA style overlay for permission when that is not what I signed up for when I purchased my home. Good try though.

  • Through a glass darkly Apr 3, 2008

    "...who are not on board with neighborhood stagnation." Gotta love the development folks.

    My neighborhood has several 'replacement' homes. None of them are of the McMansion variety -- the new houses are shoe-horned into their space, but they fit the character of the neighborhood.

    There are actually some builders who are not completely blinded by greed.

  • Clare Apr 3, 2008

    In my neighborhood, the Renew Raleigh signs are everywhere and are proudly displayed by homeowners and landlords (who have a vested interest in protecting their property as much as anyone else who is responsible for the mortgage). Homeowners and landlords alike have the same rights and privileges to that which they own. If no one wants replacement homes in your area, by all means, limit yourselves heavily... Please, just don't force your ideas or agenda on those who are not on board with neighborhood stagnation.

  • Through a glass darkly Apr 3, 2008

    Thanks for that, Clare. In my neighborhood, the only Renew Raleigh signs are on properties with absentee landlords (and only on a few of them). I can't recall any signs on properties of homeowners. My neighborhood is inside the beltline and within a mile of the NCSU campus. I see eseentially no support for McMansions.

  • Clare Apr 3, 2008

    I can quanify that by the number of Renew Raleigh signs in the yards (and the 500+ members) as well as the fact that SCALE tried a forcible downzone of 140+ of my neighbors against their will (FOR THE PURPOSE OF LIMITING WHAT WE CAN DO WITH OUR OWN PROPERTY) and they were soundly defeated by a CAC vote, those AFFECTED HOMEOWNERS and ajacent neighbors who gladly signed against the downzone petition. It should be noted that SCALE included two large parcels of park land to make it more difficult for homeowners to defend themselves against this preditory downzone. Instead of backing off, SCALE and their city council supporters push ahead. Feel free to knock on doors in the Fallon Park, Anderson Heights area. Survey away...you will be surprised by the lack of interest in limitations.

  • Through a glass darkly Apr 3, 2008

    "The vast majority of the neighborhoods which are most effected by the tear-downs support the change...."

    A friendly question. How is "support the change" measured? Has there been surveys? Neighborhood groups passing letters of support? Or, is this a bit of truthiness?

  • Clare Apr 3, 2008

    Nobody is "buying" the sky is falling techniques used by the fringe groups and the city council to take away people's property rights. The only thing I am "buying" are the facts. And the facts speak for themselves. Rodger Koopman's comment at one City Council meeting that he sees 10 teardowns every week got busted. As did the SCALE groups claims that our wonderful neighborhood is in peril from evil developers...who, by the way, purchased homes on the open market. Individuals weren't lining up to buy and live in the little homes that were in sad shape. There is no conspiracy, just the market prevailing.The vast majority of the neighborhoods which are most effected by the tear-downs support the change, and want it to continue without busy-body neighbors who can't handle change infringing on the rights of others.

  • Jackieann Apr 3, 2008

    The statement "Study: 'McMansions' Small Percentage of Raleigh Building" is not supported by the facts in the story. The "small percentage" of Raleigh Building is the ratio of infill building to all new building.

    The infill study shows that out of 24,187 homes built from 2002-2007, 656 were infill homes. (2.7%) Of the 656 infill homes built in that time period, 26% were less than 2000sf, 12.9% were 2000-3000 sf, 12% were 3,000-4000sf, 18% were 4,000- 5,000sf, and 30% were 5,000sf and up.

    60% of the infill homes were 3,000sf or larger. Approximately half (48.9%) of the infill houses were 4,000sf or larger.

    What the article doesn't tell us is the percentage of all new homes that are McMansions (definitions vary- 3,000-4,000sf and up), which could support the claim in the headline.

    The correct story title should be: "McMansions account for more than half of infill building in Raleigh"

  • Through a glass darkly Apr 3, 2008

    Sad to see all the people buying this. Consider this:

    The city is growing. Fast. The vast majority of that growth is new houses on newly developed land. No surprise there.

    Look at what was said about 'replacement houses'. More than half were less than 4000 sq. ft. Why did they choose that cutoff? Why not 3000? The answer, of course, is that then the study wouldn't show what they wanted. Notice that about 1/4 are less than 2000, this means that 3/4 are > 2000 sq. ft. Why not look at houses that are > 2 stories? Or, houses that take up >30% of the lot? The puppet masters (developers) chose the results, and cooked the statistics to show what they wanted. That's the normal situation here in Raleigh.

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