Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Nichols Hills Official: City Not Developing 'McMansion' Problem

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Nichols Hills Official: City Not Developing 'McMansion' Problem

Article excerpt

A Nichols Hills house valued at $347,000 was recently demolished to make way for a new $1.6 million home, said developer Tim Hughes, who handled a similar residential property just a few blocks away.

Within the last 12 months, the small municipality nestled in the northwestern part of the Oklahoma City metroplex has issued eight residential demolition permits with bigger, more expensive homes expected in their place. One of the latest permits was for the razing of a $1.8 million house.

But Nichols Hills - all 2 square miles of it, with a median family income of $125,748, according to the latest U.S. Census - is not developing a McMansion problem, City Manager David Poole said.

"What you have to remember is that in Nichols Hills the majority of houses were built out here in the 1950s or before," Poole said. "So you've got a lot of houses that are 50, 60 and 70 years old out here. And houses with 50-year-old wiring and plumbing don't cut it today. It's just a trend that says that some of the houses that have seen better days are being torn down and rebuilt."

Late last year, residents complained to the Nichols Hills City Council about the risk of a "McMansion" trend that has spread through upscale communities across the nation. McMansion is a slang term in the architectural industry for a style of construction that suggests mansion-like proportions and the culture ubiquity of McDonald's restaurant chain. McMansions loom over their neighbors, sometimes seeming to outgrow their lots. Many large windows, wide hallways and great rooms are common, and high ceilings make the buildings expensive to heat and cool.

By December, city staff and committee volunteers had drawn up a plan to prohibit such projects, with close attention to size restrictions. Poole said the issue was adequately addressed.

"We reworked the zoning ordinances to restrict some of the building parameters. - There may be some fine-tuning of ordinances as we go," he said. "Part of the charm of Nichols Hills is the variety. …

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