The first part of Mark and Constance Eddy's homeownership story is classic: In 1998 the newlyweds bought a "starter" home in a post-World...
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The first part of Mark and Constance Eddy’s homeownership story is classic: In 1998 the newlyweds bought a “starter” home in a post-World War II subdivision in Prairie Village, Kan.
The 900-square-foot, two-bedroom, one-bath house was dated, with 1950s metal cabinets and gold-flecked Formica counters in the kitchen, but cozy.
What really sold the couple on the home was the street. Prairie Lane is a winding street of tiny houses nestled close together under a canopy of large trees. The neighborhood is next to the Prairie Village Shops, which contains an urban mix of businesses — gas station, hardware store, drugstore and diner, as well as upscale restaurants and boutiques.
“People live in their front yards. There’s a mix of ages — some neighbors are like grandparents to the children on the street. It really has a sense of community,” Eddy said.
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Seven years later the couple had two small children and a third on the way. It was time to trade up.
So the Eddys sold the house on Prairie Lane and bought a 1,900-square-foot ranch on a big lot in Leawood, Kan.
But in a 21st-century twist to the tale, the Eddys were unhappy in the “better” neighborhood. The street was usually deserted and quiet.
Two years later, when the house next door to their first home back on Prairie Lane came up for sale, the Eddys decided to buy it, tear it down and build a new house big enough for their family to grow into.
At 3,400 square feet, the Eddys’ new home towers over its neighbors on Prairie Lane. The home is in compliance with city codes requirements for setback from the street, setbacks from the sides of the property, height and footprint on the lot.
But shortly after groundbreaking, the Prairie Village Homes Association took the Eddys to court, claiming the proposed house design was in violation of deed restrictions that limited to homes to “1 ½” stories. The judge eventually ruled in favor of the Eddys.
Eddy says most of his neighbors have been supportive, but he acknowledges others think the house is too big.
“I respectfully disagree. If a house is beautiful, I don’t care if it’s twice the size of the one next to it. It should only be a problem if it’s ugly.”
Cydney Millstein, owner of Architectural & Historical Research in Kansas City, says preserving historic neighborhoods is important, but it doesn’t mean everything has to stay the same.
“If new designs are done tastefully with a tip of the hat to what was going on historically, that’s OK. If it’s bringing life back to a neighborhood that became kind of stale after a while, this is a good way to inject vitality back into the neighborhood.”