By Anessa V. Cohen

 Those of us who have been living in the Five Towns for a long time have seen all kinds of changes as they happened. New stores, restaurants, and shuls; old shuls rebuilt into new shuls; new yeshivas; old yeshivas building new accommodations; renovations of existing homes; developers building new homes; and so on and so forth.

Whether it is a commercial establishment or a newly built residential dwelling, we usually discuss whether it will be good for the community or not, how it will affect the parking status quo, and the all-important question of when exactly it will be finished and ready to go.

Most of the discussions–at least in the early stages–have nothing to do with how well the new place will fit aesthetically into the surrounding area expecting its arrival. On a commercial level, when a new business has opened or is planning to open, you hear all kinds of information and opinions as to what this business is bringing into the community that will serve the populace, as well as what they will offer, their hours, and the type of services they will have. But how often do you hear anyone speaking of how the new enterprise will add beauty and panache to the rest of the particular commercial strip on which it is being built?

When a shul builds a new building, do you hear people speaking of how beautiful the building will be, or do you more often hear about how many more people it will be able to accommodate, the size of the new kiddush room compared to what they had before, and how large a crowd the shul will be able to host?

The new shuls put up nice landscaping to make everything look pretty, but how many of these shuls build an architectural wonder like our ancestors used to build a century ago? For the most part, they do the best that they can with the money they have been able to raise, to build the best building which will work, stretching the possibilities as far as they can. Prices are not what they used to be years ago, and neither are construction costs, so I guess those museum-like structures of old are just a dream today! So they settle for simple structures with beautiful landscaping.

Yeshiva building today has more to consider. They have hundreds of building regulations that they need to follow based on federal, state, and local laws for school construction. They need to meet the parking needs of their staff. Driveway accesses are needed to ensure safe and smooth loading and unloading of children onto and off the school buses each day. And traffic patterns need to be established for the school buses and car-pooling parents. Given the expense that goes into resolving these issues, the building style tends to be more practical and simple, with more effort put into nice landscaping.

All this being said, new shuls and new yeshivas still enhance our fair neighborhood and attract more homebuyers and builders than ever before.

So now we come to the developers building new homes in our area. Given the prices they are looking for with the new construction they are putting up, why are they not being a little more creative in each of the new building projects that they are erecting? Although some builders change the exterior designs as they build so each house does not become a twin of the previous one, others take the architectural plans from the first building that they erected and duplicate them all over town without even changing the color of stucco to mask the duplication!

C’mon guys–you are building houses way over $1 million; can’t you at least take a little effort to make each house aesthetically different from the one you previously built so people walking or driving down the street do not feel like they are looking at cloned houses similar to a townhouse development? Our Five Towns community deserves better! v

Anessa Cohen lives in Cedarhurst and is a licensed real-estate broker and a licensed N.Y.S. mortgage broker with over 20 years of experience, offering full-service residential and commercial real-estate services (Anessa V Cohen Realty) and mortgaging services (FM Home Loans) in the Five Towns and throughout the tri-state area. She can be reached at 516-569-5007 or via her website, Readers are encouraged to send questions or comments to


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