Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Can't say I'm cryin'.

Photo by Elaine Thompson/AP

I might have fantasies of watching them burn, but not for noble eco-reasons. Just because McMansions offend my Decorno sensibilities.

'Street of Dreams' houses torched

ECHO LAKE -- As arson investigators sift through the charred remains of multimillion-dollar "dream" homes in a wooded subdivision near here, some builders are wondering if their luxury homes could be the next target of eco-terrorists.

"I'm really concerned about building, when I see this," said a Snohomish County developer, who didn't want his name used for fear of drawing attention to his project.

"I don't want anyone from ELF to see it," he said, referring to the Earth Liberation Front, an amorphous collection of radical environmentalists, which claimed responsibility for Monday's blaze on a scornful sign found nearby.

Striking before dawn, the arsonists tried to burn down all five homes showcased in last year's "Street of Dreams," but succeeded in destroying only three, federal authorities said. The homes were unoccupied and no injuries were reported, but damage was estimated at $7 million.

The FBI said the fires are being investigated as potential acts of domestic terrorism. Agents from the FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and regional Joint Terrorism Task Force were assisting local authorities.

While the spectacular blaze raged, the only apparent clue was a white bedsheet found on the property's edge. On it was a message, sloppily spray-painted in red letters: "Built Green? Nope BLACK!"

For wary developers it was an alarming flashback. Several other upscale developments in Snohomish County and Camano Island have been torched in recent years with ELF claming responsibility.

"We've seen this grow over the years and it's very scary," said Brian Minnich, director of legislative affairs for the Building Industry Association of Washington, which is offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the arsonists.

Read full article HERE.


drwende said...

Okay, what the news isn't saying is whether these homes were sold to anyone. I can totally see frustrated home building companies arranging for "ELF" to "protest" by torching unsold inventory.

Suzy said...

I say burn em all - even if they are eco friendly - those McMansions are just plain UGLY!

Pseudojen said...

drwende-that was my exact thought, too. from what i've read, the homes were unoccupied and for sale. pretty easy for a builder to torch his own place and blame it on crazy environmentalists. i smell a rat.

Kwana said...

It seems terribly dangerous. I'm not a McMansion fan but no one has the right to destroy someone's property. If this was done by environmentalists did they think about insurance costs going up for the rest of us normal folks because of this?
If it's done by the developer same thing. Throw them in jail. That's a lot of money. Can you imagine if it was somehow your dream house?

Anonymous said...

Deciding that their standard of green wasn't green enough is pretty scary. In fact, reading about the site, they may have made effective environmental decisions that were unaesthetic and ignored community patterns, but burning a house down is pretty unenvironmental too. Much better to protest, spray paint, discourage buyers than burn. This leans toward vigilante-ism, and it's too easy to point fingers at everyone else. My theory on ugly McMansions is that they're the next generation's apartment buildings.

paola said...

I visited these houses last year and had a hilarious time commenting loudly about how horrific all the interior decor was.

But looking though my photos this morning, I did feel a teensy bit sad, not for the houses themselves necessarily but for all the incredible WASTE of money, time and resources.(I got the tickets from our landscapers who pride themselves on their green and organic gardening and had been utterly thrilled to be creating three of the showgardens).

Many of the houses were making a big thing about how green their build credentials were and I picked up lots of information about more environmentally friendly products for my own home remodel. Sure they weren't 'green enough' (what new build can be?) but they were in their own way doing some 'green' marketing. How very stupid it all seems.

Wish they'd got the pseudo French chateau though...

Jules said...

I'm with Kwana and Anon. I used to live in a McMansion, and as ugly and nondescript as it was, that was my first home and I still look at it fondly.

After WWII, there was the same outrage at the homes/communities cropping up everywhere. Now they're considered classics (I just don't see that happening with McMansions, but who knows?) In some areas McMansions serve a purpose--there just aren't enough homes to supply the demand.

The Nerdy Fashionista said...

That's horrifying. It's maniacs like that who give environmentalists a bad name. (Kind of like how every protester I saw in the vicinity of the republican convention a couple years ago was a dreadlocked, unwashed grungemeister with a cannabis T-shirt--no wonder half the country is terrified of liberals.)

Anonymous said...

The smart (and difficult) approach is blocking the developers before they start, and that means all sorts of boring work like attending zoning meetings, talking to reporters and local council members, marshalling evidence, and developing arguments based on research, etc. It's easier (a.k.a. lazier) to just light a match.