Monday, April 12, 2010

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

When we were looking for a house in 1995, we had a clear idea of where we wanted to live - Pine Hills. The Pine Hills area of Albany is lovely with lots of trees, good schools, and an array of 2-family home options. We concentrated our search in that area and came up empty. After a few months of fruitless searching, I did a drive-by of 13 Arcadia Avenue and immediately decided it was too small. And not in the "right" neighborhood.

Flash-forward, Lost-style, about 3 months. We had made a reasonable offer on a beautiful, large 2-family home in a nice area off of New Scotland, which was refused. We later came to learn that the sellers waited for their listing to expire and then sold it "by owner" for exactly what we had offered them. It seems that for every lame realtor, there is an unscrupulous seller/buyer, unfortunately they don't always go hand in hand. (And we do know many more terrific Realtors now). On a whim, I decided it was time to actually visit 13 Arcadia Avenue, which was still on the market.

I attended an open house one afternoon and was struck by the beautiful woodwork in the house and the way the sun streamed in the windows on the southeastern side. There must have been a special deal on light blue paint, because that was the color of every room, but I understood that paint was reasonably cheap. As was the house. I was checking out the basement (for probably the last time. The washer and drier are in the basement now, along with Tom's wine collection and I don't visit that area frequently.) when I became aware of another visitor to the house, a nice older gentleman, George, who spoke with a charming brogue. As he politely grilled me I knew that I had found our future home - a place with real Irish people right across the street. I called my husband and less than 3 months later we were painting walls and having our floors refinished. And we've been there (here?) ever since.

We came to know George as the mayor of the block. During snowstorms he directed us all on where to park and his garden was an inspiration with brilliant purple morning glories and Chinese lanterns galore. He and his family always had a moment to chat or an offer of a cup of tea. Tom & I started our family and became acquainted with other neighbors, and through the years we lost some wonderful friends (George passed away, Mario & Julia relocated to accommodate their only child) and gained some equally fabulous neighbors. Our block has character and spirit and diversity and I can't imagine living anywhere else in Albany - except for Englewood Place, of course.

So, right now, George's house is for sale. The "new" people, who bought George's house a few years ago, are "motivated" to sell and we are excited to have someone new (and friendlier) move in across the street from us. Someone more like George. Of course, we visited the Open House yesterday to see the updates the current owner has made, and the house looked pretty good, although it certainly still has an enormous amount of untapped potential. So, if you're in the market for new digs and want to live in a neighborhood that is central to everything, yet tucked away on a quiet street, this could be your place. We have a park and playground at the end of our block and are within walking distance of the Spectrum, a pharmacy, a hardware store, an awesome new branch of the public library, a place to replenish your fish tank, and your thirst for art, and a number of independent, funky restaurants. DelSo would welcome you, so, won't you be my neighbor?

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