Topic: In Amsterdam, Floating Homes That Only Look Like Ships
When Karen Bosma first moved her boat to the Borneokade, northeast of Amsterdam’s bustling city center, in 1999, the neighborhood was barely more than a cluster of commercial docks and underused warehouses.
“It was for poor people — a lot of artists lived on boats,” she said, sitting in her neat, cozy living room just below the waterline.
In the quarter century since, Bosma, a 62-year-old social worker, and her husband have raised two sons on the Distel, a 1912 82-foot freighter, which — stripped of its engine, fuel tanks and cargo hold — is one of Amsterdam’s iconic houseboats, with a seagoing hull, wheelhouse and curtained windows.
Three boats down lies the B18, an elegant 131-foot, 2 1/2-story floating mansion (with more than 3,000 square feet of interior space) that shows just how perfectly the soul of a luxury yacht combines with open-space living and elegant living quarters.
“It has to be a ship on the outside and a house on the inside,” said Gijs Haverkate, 53, who created the vessel and lives on it with his family.
In the Dutch capital, houseboats have gone upmarket. The new owners are wealthy and discerning, interested in new designs, upgraded comfort and sustainability.
Haverkate, a designer by trade, hopes his boat will inspire others to build on the water. He runs UrbanShips, a company that builds customized houseboats designed to look like ships.
After years of serving as a relatively cheap place to live in an expensive city, Amsterdam’s houseboats — or rather the spaces they float — have become popular and expensive, with prices increasing 30% to 40% over the past five years alone, according to Jon Kok, one of the city’s best known houseboat real estate agents.
The whale’s share of the price increase comes from the value of the berth, not the ship.
A typical Amsterdam canal berth might be worth close to a half-million dollars, depending on its location and how big a ship it will allow; some of the older, unrenovated ships in those berths might be worth only $20,000 (building a new ship, of course, is much more expensive).
But in this gentrification debate, the cost of new berths is less important than the architecture of the ship — and whether they ever served as actual commercial ships.
Once populated by converted working boats, the canal now holds an increasing number of floating houses designed to look like oceangoing vessels but with hardly any of the working features of a real boat.
Source article: https://paper.udn.com/udnpaper/POH0067/348587/web/#2L-16188816L
Topic: Japan has so many vacant homes it’s giving them away
Four years ago, Naoko and Takayuki Ida were given a house in the small town of Okutama, in Tokyo prefecture. For free.
A free house may sound like a scam. But Japan faces an unusual property problem： it has more homes than people to live in them.
In 2013, there were 61 million houses and 52 million households, according to the Japan Policy Forum. And the situation is poised to get worse.
Japan’s population is expected to decline from 127 million to about 88 million by 2065, according to the National Institute of Population and Social Security, meaning even fewer people will need houses. As young people leave rural areas for city jobs, Japan’s countryside has become haunted by deserted "ghost houses."
It’s predicted that by 2040, nearly 900 towns and villages across Japan will no longer exist － and Okutama is one of them. In that context, giving away property is a bid for survival.
Topic: Part Office Building , Part Homeless Shelter
A year ago, when Amazon let a homeless shelter for families move into a former motel it owned, it was viewed as a nice but fleeting gesture.
The motel was on a chunk of downtown property where Amazon planned to eventually erect yet another set of sparkling buildings to meet its insatiable need for office space in this city. The hotel would be torn down and the shelter kicked out when that time came.
Instead, Amazon has decided to let the shelter stay. In an unusual arrangement, the company has agreed to give the shelter, Mary’s Place, a permanent home inside one of the new office buildings for which it will break ground in the fall.
Amazon will give roughly half of the six-story building to the shelter, providing it with 47,000 square feet of space with private rooms that can hold 65 families, or about 220 people and their pets. The facility, expected to open in early 2020, will have its own entrance and elevators.
“I see it as this huge gift because everywhere we go, we end up leaving,” said Marty Hartman, the executive director of Mary’s Place, which runs seven transitional shelters around the Seattle area meant to house families until they can find permanent homes. “You come in and become a fabric of the neighborhood you’re in, and then you say goodbye. That’s a hard thing for a lot of people to do.”
In an interview at the current Mary’s Place site owned by Amazon, which was bustling with families returning to the shelter for the evening, John Schoettler, Amazon’s vice president for global real estate and facilities, said the company would spend “tens of millions of dollars” on the design and construction of the shelter’s portion of the building. Amazon will pay the utilities for Mary’s Place, which will occupy the space rent free, although the organization will continue to pay its own staff.
Schoettler said Amazon originally allowed the shelter to stay in the motel because of the severity of Seattle’s homelessness crisis, which had prompted the city’s mayor to declare a state of emergency in 2015. Schoettler said Amazon was impressed by Mary’s Place, and he described its plan to give the shelter a permanent home as an investment in the neighborhood.
In San Francisco, Google, Salesforce.com and others have funded a campaign to find permanent housing for homeless people. But Nan Roman, president of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, a nonprofit advocacy group in Washington, D.C., said she was unaware of any other private corporation integrating a homeless shelter into its building.
Source article: https://paper.udn.com/udnpaper/POH0067/314016/web/