RANT OF THE WEEK
We’re not getting into the contract hassle; that’s between the Lobrillos and the owners. But we will say this: Hurry back. Lobrillo’s was an oasis with a Chicago-heavy menu of hot dogs, brats, sausages, burgers, the one-third-pound Ditka, Rome’s most unique French fries and amazing onion rings. We could go on and on. Especially about that Polish sausage. Or Chicago dog. Even the fountain drinks tasted the way they used to and not what we get today from one of these “100 flavors-in-one” clunkers.
Lobrillo’s wasn’t a cheap lunch or dinner, and that’s fine. Each order was freshly prepared. The daily menu specials were great; the regular-priced items were just as tasty.
But not now, and at least for the immediate future. Sure, The Varsity is on the way and we’ll get there probably six months after it opens as the lines thin. Lobrillo’s was different; it was special; it was family almost with wonderful accidental meetings with friends not seen for a bit.
Sidebar: The other Saturday, we passed on a chance to try Italian beef from Chuck’s Curbside, one of the food trucks at the new Cartersville beer garden. We were waiting instead to go with what Steve and company had to offer at Lobrillo’s. Not now (and we never got to the meatballs, either).
Lobrillo’s is a loss, no matter what the reason. We hope they find a new place to call home. And soon.
WHAT’S ON RADAR: HOUSING
A) The residential boom: Yup, 3,300 potential new homes are on Rome’s horizon. Some are coming out of the ground already; others are tied up in planning, zoning or other forms of review. We expect two thirds of them to make it; maybe more. But, as one longtime reader asked on Thursday: Who’s going to live there? We’re not seeing the growth in Census numbers.
Good point. But we do have a housing shortage, “affordable” or otherwise. A veteran Realtor on Wednesday said homes are still under contract on the day they go on the market (one near us had a contract pending sign the day the sign went up).
One push you might see is to lure more of the work-from-home set. The pandemic has accelerated the trend. Why live in metro Atlanta, with its mix of amenities and problems, when you can get a more laid back atmosphere here? Plus, with metro homes selling at such high prices, a relocating work-at-home person can pick up something here and still pocket a nice difference.
We do have a recommendation for our elected folks: Switch gears from the Special Committee on Housing to a Special Committee on Growth. If all these projects are indeed rushing toward reality, we might not be ready. As we’ve heard from our neighbors off Chulio Road, the proposed 1,000-plus home community will tax an already-taxed winding, two-lane country road. We’ve got an excellent planning department and planning commission but they’re going to need help if this continues.
B. Another look at the housing boom — and booming prices: During the run-up to the creation of Rome’s Special Committee on Housing, area governments brought in some guest speakers, among them Frank Norton Jr., the CEO of The Norton Agency based in Gainesville. We’ve known Frank since 1990 and attended several of his “Native Intelligence” briefings each year even after we arrived in Rome. Norton plays it straight: He presents exhaustive data on national, state and local trends, and explains what it means. His latest presentation was last week and you can view it (above) or read it here. Or you can read a news digest of the report courtesy of longtime broadcast partners WDUN in Gainesville. There are indeed takeaways that apply here, including the high prices of some of the 3,300 residences projected for our area.
C) Smith Douglas, the prolific home builder in Floyd and Northwest Georgia, ranked fifth in review of Atlanta’s Top 25. The listing, posted by Atlanta Real Estate Forum and courtesy of MarketNsight, shows Smith Douglas as fifth in 2021 and 2020. According to the post:
“Atlanta homebuilders included in the list are ranked by percentage of market share for the number of homes closed in 2021 in the metro Atlanta real estate market… It is interesting to note that four of the top five homebuilders are large national builders. The only large privately held building company to make the list is Smith Douglas Homes. Other locals on our list include Liberty Communities, Rocklyn Homes Inc., McKinley Homes, Capshaw Development, The Providence Group, Silverstone Residential and Trademark Quality Homes, to name a few.”
The company’s latest project, Crestwood, features 51 new homes off Ga. 53 and the Bypass, and is the first new subdivision in Rome in two decades. Look for the model to open soon.
POPCORN & POLITICS:
More Herschel on the way: Already due in town for a private fund-raiser that night, U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker will be among the guests at the Greater Rome Board of Realtors’ membership luncheon on Feb. 8. Registration begins at 11:30 a.m., lunch at noon. Site: Coosa Country Club. (Members and guests only). To avoid clashing with National Association of Realtors’ policy, the event is billed as a speech recalling the Republican hopeful’s dazzling football career.
PEAKS & VALLEYS: The highs and lows of Northwest Georgia.