Back in March, Google Ventures partner Kevin Rose and wife Darya bought a historic home in Portland for $US1.3 million.
The five-bedroom home was built in 1892 and reportedly once belonged to the Montague family, who were important public figures in early 20th-century Portland.
But, according to the Oregonian, the couple’s plans to extensively remodel the home have some of their future neighbours pretty upset.
City development officials submitted a permit to tear down the house on Monday. Usually a demolition would be subject to a 120-day delay, but since the Roses plan to build a new home on the property, the rule doesn’t apply.
Now, an online petition begging the Roses to reconsider has earned more than 1,200 signatures from community members.
“When several of us met you at this year’s Easter egg hunt, we were eager to find out about your plans. We were reassured that you had no plans to build on the spare lot, and were relieved to hear that you were committed to remodeling rather than demolishing the house,” the petition reads. “Against this background, we were surprised to learn of the events of June 13-17. At seemingly lightning pace, it appears that you notified the City of Portland that you were withdrawing the house from the City’s landmark inventory, applied for a permit to build a new house on the site, and obtained a permit to demolish the house. Because you withdrew the house from the landmark inventory, you were no longer obligated to give public notice of the intended demolition, nor were you required to delay the demolition so that neighbours’ comments could be received.”
Rose has twice responded to the petitioners’ concerns, saying that the home had not been listed on the National Historic Registry or the Portland Historic Registry. Though the home was named as a “potentially significant structure” on a third, separate list, the couple says that an architect who visited the property assured them that there was nothing historically significant about the house.
Plus, the work required to restore the home would be extensive.
“After the inspections, we were properly alerted to several areas that needed to be addressed. Electrical, plumbing, foundation/basement work, and asbestos,” Rose wrote. “We then explored new construction, as it was clear to us that the cost of repairs was outweighing the cost/benefit of building new.”
In a new response posted earlier today, Rose said that he and his wife plan to offer the home back to the people they bought it from, encourage them to fix the asbestos and other problems, then resell it. If the original sellers don’t accept the offer, the Roses will carry on with the demolition plans.
“We never intended to deceive anyone, as some of you have accused,” he said. “We simply wanted to create a beautiful home for our family.”
This isn’t the first time Rose has faced conflicts with his neighbours. Back in April, anarchists picketed the entrepreneur’s home in San Francisco, demanding that Google do something to solve the city’s housing crisis.