55 Baldwin Farms South is new to the market today, priced at $5.350 million. The owners paid its builder Mark Mariani $5.950 for it when it was new in 2004 and sent considerable money afterwards improving it, so the asking price already represents a substantial loss. My guess is that the worst is yet to come.
Mariani was never one of my favorite builders, but give the landscaper-turned-buider this: he understood the early 80s' drive for big, flashy, pseudo-classic homes, and met it with enthusiasm. At the peak of the market, he boasted of owning a Gulfstream jet and his own mansion on Rogues Hill, all because he built the same, identical house, in record speed, using dubious building techniques, throughout the then-popular back country.
I haven't heard much about him lately, and certainly nothing from him: one morning back in 2004, after I criticized the man, he left word with my employer that if I showed up at his open house that day he'd throw me out. I dutifully appeared, of course, but he'd chosen to absent himself. Too bad, because it would have made for great column fodder. He may have returned to landscaping, or simply retired — Lord knows he could afford to — but those indistinguishable and undistinguished houses remain, depreciating.