Sunday, May 29, 2011

Westmorland History Book a Great Read

A new book released a few weeks ago offers an interesting, historical perspective of the Westmorland neighborhood. The book begins during the glacial period of the region.  It discusses the topography of the neighborhood and early subdivision development and progresses to modern day additions to the area such as Sequoya Commons.

The development of the neighborhood is chronicled with information on historical figures with names that have become familiar to us such as Paunack, Piper and Toepher.  The book also touches on the surrounding Sunset Village and Dudgeon-Monroe neighborhoods.

Copies of "Westmorland, A Great Place to Live" are available for purchase for $10 at the Sequoya Branch library. It's a great read! Until next time...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Healthier Lifestyle Leads to Niche Business

Spring is finally here (I think!), just in time for Memorial Day.  If you are like me, spring gets me itching to get outside and move.  I walk, I bike, I mow the lawn; I move.  I also begin to eat healthier.  Busy lives sometime make that more difficult, but there is a neighborhood place that can help!

Fit 2 Eat offers healthy fare to customers near and far.  What started 18 years ago as a catering service (they still cater at several local synagogues and schools) has grown to include a new store front at 3742 Speedway Rd.  Sara and Ron Ben-Ami opened Fit 2 Eat about six months ago.  Within 2 weeks, they had regular customers who enjoyed their healthy meal alternatives.

“The response has been excellent,” says Sara.  “Our customers appreciate being able to get healthy food that is full of flavor, too.”

Sara began her healthy eating initiative when she decided it was time to get fit and eat healthy.  She began working out and eating a healthier diet.  Friends and colleagues began asking her to make food for them, too!  So what began as a personal mission has blossomed into a niche market in healthy meals.

Of course, eating right is the cornerstone of the business, but Sara knew that the location was a key factor, as well.  Located at the intersection of four incredible Westside neighborhoods - Sunset Village, Regent, Dudgeon-Monroe and Westmorland - has helped bolster the store.

“I have connections to Westmorland,” Sara explains.  “And our proximity to Glenway golf course and the bike path has been a great asset.”

Fit 2 Eat is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.  The restaurant has limited inside seating, as well as “Food 2 Go”.  If you are looking for a healthy alternative to fast food or grocery store pre-packaged meals, check out Fit 2 Eat…tell them Kathy sent you.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Up? Down? Sideways? Who Knows?

It's the middle of May. We are solidly in the second quarter of the year, and I'm looking at housing numbers for the month of April to make some sense of what's happening in my near west side neighborhood. There are forecasters and prognosticators who estimate and predict to try to determine where the market is going.  Many of these "experts" tell us the doom and gloom story of the real estate market. I'm not saying they are wrong. What I will say is I'm not seeing it. Where I live, houses are moving, and quickly (see my previous post about a home in Westmorland that had 10 offers).

In Sunset Village for instance, there was only one sale during April, but there are currently 12 houses on the market.  Five of those 12 have an accepted offer or are pending (all contingencies have been removed, just waiting to close).  In Westmorland, the picture is much the same.  Two properties closed in April, but there are only six homes for sale in that area and two of them have an accepted offer.

The Dudgeon-Monroe neighborhood offers a little different story.  Houses in this neighborhood typically have a little higher price tag.  Three houses in Dudgeon-Monroe sold in April, but there are 31 homes on the market in that neighborhood.  Seven of those 31 have an accepted offer.  To be fair, several of these 31 homes have just been listed in the last week or so.

My theory was that houses in the $250,000-$300,000 price range were the properties that were selling. And some of those had accepted offers within a matter of days. I have done a little more research and guess what?  My theory has been blown out of the water! There are a couple of homes in Sunset Village that are lovely homes, but they are priced higher ($375,000-$390,000) than most of the homes in the area. My narrow mindedness thought these homes would probably not sell very quickly. Lo and behold, they both have accepted offers. One of these homes has been on the market for less than 3 weeks!

So what's my point?  Is the market up? Down? Sideways?   Who knows?  I do know, it's not doom and gloom out there, as the forecasters would have us believe. It's also not all rosy and sunshine either. It is what it is, and buyers are making decisions based on sound advice and counsel. 

So maybe it's not about up, down or sideways, but rather about just moving forward.  Until next time...

Friday, May 6, 2011

The "Tracks"

It was weed infested.  It was muddy, rocky and full of trash.  On occasion, there were unseemly characters that used the area as a "hangout".  The area was referred to as "the tracks" and parents wouldn't allow their young children to go to such an awful place, let alone play there.  Oh, but what fun it was to sneak down to the "tracks" and climb on those rocks.  You could spend hours there with nothing but your imagination.

The "tracks" was the railroad track that cut through our near west side neighborhood like a snake.  A train would rumble through the neighborhood once a week or so.  But other than that, it was vacant.   Some would walk along the route as a short cut to Camp Randall or Mickey's Dairy Bar,  But it wasn't for the faint of heart!  It was dark and gloomy...and scary!

As a child, I felt bad for those who lived in homes that backed up to the tracks. How noisy it must be!  And the garbage!  It was a treasure trove of trash; everything from old tires and lumber to retired mattresses and household furniture!   A friend of mine once threw his  bike over the bridge on Edgewood Ave.

Fast foward a few years...OK, maybe decades!  The unsightly "tracks" is now part of the Capital City Bike Trail that cuts through the Westmorland and Dudgeon-Monroe neighborhoods and winds to areas beyond.  A link to the University and downtown Madison.  Today, the "characters" on the "tracks" are bikers, walkers, runners and rollerbladers.  Parents push strollers down the path and dogwalkers enjoy the natural beauty of the area.

Of course, it has also changed the dynamic of the housing around the path.  A house with the bike path in your back yard is now at asset!  The extra green space a luxury that only a fortunate few can claim.

I am on the bike path often these days.  Several times a week you'll find me walking along the path remembering my younger self and the "tracks" of old.

No doubt, I prefer the new space to the old, gloomy tracks.  But I can't help remembering how it used to be and how far we've come.  And I'm always sure to bring my imagination!