Next to our house here in Beirut, snuggled in between buildings is a small empty lot with some trees, bushes, and a lot of mud. The boys like to play there for a little while in the mornings, when there’s not enough time to go over to the campus playground but the urge for some fresh air gets too strong. Sometimes cars park on the side of the lot during the week, although I would think twice about it because not only will your car get very dirty but you’d also risk getting stuck in the mud. But parking is very hard to come by in this area, so I can see the attraction. The lot belongs to an abandoned house that was bombed during the war. It’s intact, but full of bullet holes, the windows are busted, it was obviously on fire at some point, and parts of the façade is coming down. It must have been left like this for a while, because weeds are growing on the run down balconies and into the rooms of the house. Or at least we thought it was an abandoned building until I saw a moving truck this past weekend move the last tenants out from the top fifth floor. Personally, I don’t understand how someone was living there. The building was standing up, yes, but barely. Maybe it wasn’t as bad up top as it looks on the ground and first floor, but I surely would be a little more than nervous stepping in and out of a building every day that looks like that.
Apparently, the building has been sold to a new owner and that’s why the people that have been living there had to move out. “It will be worth 12 million dollars when it’s rebuilt.” our concierge told me. With our rent in mind, I don’t doubt that for a minute. There are quite a few buildings like this in our neighborhood – bombed and abandoned, waiting to be or in the process of being rebuilt – and more than enough people wanting to live in this area to fill them up once they’re finished. If the Lebanese can keep war away, there’s a lot of money to be made here.