Park Point braces for change in housing market

By Makinzie Cole and Megan Hayes Park Point is home to 1,386 Duluth residents, made up of big homes, small homes, cabins, condos and estates. In time, many of these homes will welcome new owners and say goodbye to their past and current residents.

Like in many Duluth neighborhoods, a surprising number of for-sale signs give the illusion of a mass-exodus out of the area. Both insiders and outsiders know Park Point as a "lifer’s" community with a high rate of involvement, but with nearly 25 for-sale signs on a seven-mile strip, residents foresee a change.

Park Point has undergone many transformations throughout the years. Once a hunting retreat, then a full-grown community and finally a site for summer homes and second properties, the Point is familiar with change.

Whether or not the “Pointers” welcome these transformations over time, choosing to stay is choosing to adapt. For some, it is all worth it.

“Park point is a wonderful place to live. It’s one of those places where neighbors bring each other cookies, the fire hall gives everyone a secure feeling; they’re there 24 hours a day,” said Lynn Beechler of Beechler Realty, who is a Park Point resident herself. “We put up duck-crossing signs to preserve nature and we like to watch out for each other too.”

Between divorce, death, marriage, loss of employment, gain of employment and property taxes, the reasons “Pointers” may choose to leave vary.

John Doberstein, a realtor from Edina Realty, has had a Park Point home listed on the market since November. A woman inherited the home due to the death of its owner and is selling it as an estate.

Doberstein attributes some of the for-sale signs to increasing property taxes, aging residents and the economy, which is causing some people to sell off their second homes.

John Gellatly, Department of Finance and Records Assessor, offers a different perspective. He says there is no evidence that property taxes are the reason for the uncanny amount of homes going up for sale.

“The likely reason is that people believe the market is picking up,” Gellatly said. “Springtime is a big selling time.”

However, many of these homes went up for sale long before the beginning of spring; Doberstein’s pending sale was first put on the market in July 2008.

“There’s nothing typical about the real-estate market right now. It’s very difficult and very strange,” Beechler said, whose agency’s name is on many of the Park Point for-sale signs.

“Ordinarily, as one [house] went on [the market], one would go off. But there aren’t a lot of inexpensive houses down there, and like in the market as a whole, things aren’t getting snapped up,” she said.

According to the Duluth Area Association of Realtors (DAAR), 10.7 percent of homes on Park Point are already vacant.

The DAAR also notes that the median home value in Park Point is $256,860 compared to the median home value of $141, 900 for Duluth as a whole, and the national median home value of $188,800. The median household income supporting these Park Point home values is $65,500.

For whatever reason, life-long residents and other community members are picking up and leaving the Point. Some who remain have seen their homestead change from a hunting retreat to the close-knit community it is today. They will look to the future to see if the newcomers will pick up where the past residents left off – in the Community Club, the Garden Club, and various Park Point committees – to uphold the strong sense of community this area is recognized for.

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