Oh, so this is Hanley Hills, which is really just a medium-small subdivision north of Page Avenue, along with a small subdivision on either side of Hanley Road. It is not particularly hilly. I learned by some research that some long-term, civically-minded residents had tried to disincorporate the small municipality last year. It failed, but their claim that the bill for fixing the streets was twice the town’s yearly budget is believable, based on the potholes and rough pavement I drove over and observed.
It is interesting. The houses sit on large lots, but are smaller on average than their counterparts in the city, at around 800 square feet. They are Cape Cods, and just look small. They sell for about $30,000 to $50,000. This could be a working person’s paradise, or a young family’s dream community. Many houses, but not the majority, are lovingly and proudly maintained and in great condition. But with all due respect, they’re still 800 square foot Cape Cods. I don’t mean to hurt anyone’s feelings, but young people don’t want a house that small or simple anymore. If it’s going to be old, they want it to be historic.
But here comes the really bad news. The Normandy School District is always teetering on unaccreditation, and abandonment is creeping into the subdivision–I mean town. I read on-line that Hanley Hills is “urban,” but it is anything but. It is about as suburban as you can get. The main trunk of Hanley Hills has one entrance, and no pedestrian paths out. There are no sidewalks.
I once remarked that at least in the inner city, those living in poverty could still enjoy short walks and density in their neighborhoods. I witnessed this over a decade ago in the suburbs of Washington, DC: the development of the suburban poor in place like Langley Park, those forced from the inner city by either gentrification or abandonment living into autocentric, deteriorating post-World War II housing but yet lacking the financial means to buy a car, isolated with substandard mass transit and long walks. The economic collapse of Hanley Hills, according to on-line statistics has been rapid–in less than a decade–so what can we hope for this tiny town in the future?