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Have you ever had the sensation when driving into a city after a few years away that the urban sprawl seems to be starting a lot sooner than how you remember it? Chances are your memory is fine; the buildings and roads you don’t recognize weren’t there the last time you passed through. It is estimated that our urban population now sits at approximately 3.9 billion people, and by 2050 that number will be at almost 7 billion.
Construction and development is going to have to happen, just as it is right now. But as we see here, not everyone who has a home they don’t want to leave is always onboard with that concept, especially if it means having to find themselves a new place to hang their hat in order to make room for the new (but not necessarily improved) growth around them.
10. Seattle: Edith Macefield’s ‘Up’ house
This famous Seattle home sets the bar for real estate holdouts. Once owned by Edith Macefield, it was in the way of progress when the site was slated for commercial development. The 84 year-old Edith had other ideas for her century-old farmhouse.
She became a bit of a hero to some when she refused an offer of $1 million for the place, far more than it was deemed to be worth. But Edith judged worth in different ways than the developer. In the end, the five-story development was built around her house.
Interestingly, the construction foreman of the development took a liking to Edith, and befriended her. The two became close, and he eventually became her primary caregiver. When she died two years later of pancreatic cancer, she willed the house to him.
Some think that the house was the inspiration for the movie “Up,” but production began on the film two years before Edith’s spat with the developer. What is true is that Disney’s powerful marketing machine saw the similarities and tied a huge bunch of helium balloons to the roof of the house in 2009 as promotion for the movie’s release. A few months later, the house was sold for $310,00 — considerably less than the million dollars Edith was once offered for it.
9. Wenling, China: Luo Baogen Lived in a Half-Demolished House in the Middle of the Road
How long do you think you could last in a house stranded in the middle of a busy road? For 67 year-old Chinese duck farmer Luo Baogen and his family, the answer was over a year.
In 2008, authorities in Wenling, China decided that a best place for a new road was right through Mr. Luo’s house, along with the houses of 450 or so of his neighbors. Offers were made to buy the properties, and everyone placidly agreed to the government’s will. Everyone, that is, except stubborn Mr. Luo.
See, Mr. Luo claimed he has spent a lot of money building his fine house, with hardwood floors and built-in wardrobes and lots of big windows looking out over the lovely countryside. Well, it was lovely before the road. So when he was offered a third of what he paid to build it, he refused.