We live in a time of excess: high levels of energy consumption, record debt per household, a real estate crisis and rapid growth in urban centers. How much larger do our houses need to be? To suggest that tearing down an affordable, existing, functional house to build a nearly four-times-larger McMansion is alarming and irresponsible, especially in Prairie Village (8/3, House + Home, "Portrait of a teardown").
Across our nation, the "teardown" epidemic is creating irreversible damage. The desire to move into older neighborhoods is commendable, but not at the cost of losing basic character. Teardowns force neighborhoods into a spiral of real estate speculation and escalating costs, leaving residents no control. With increasing energy costs and climate change, we must re-examine our need for larger homes. Small is more relevant than ever.
Teardowns wedge large houses in place of affordable houses in neighborhoods where economic and social diversity is needed to keep communities vital.
Is the teardown creating an uncontrollable escalation of demolition, unbridled waste and jeopardy to urban fabric? We must remember to value diversity, tree canopy, sunlight, open space and lower carbon footprint.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation has more information at www.preservationnation.org/issues/teardowns.