CAMBIE STREET: Middle-earth finds middle-ground

When At Home with History author Eve Lazarus suggested on her blog that, instead of tearing down the Hobbit House, the new owner should move it, the new owner called her in a panic.

All these people on my Facebook page [were getting] really into it, and he called up and said, No! Were not going to move it! Were going to build this townhouse development, and heres how were going to do it.

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The 83-year-old faux-thatched-roof home at King Edward and Cambie made headlines in May when it was listed for sale for $2.86 million.

But, instead of being bought by the Dark Lord of Mordor, the Hobbit House was purchased by David Mooney, the man responsible for the Boxwood Green and Viridian Green townhouse complexes on W. 6th and W.4th respectively.

What [Mooney] told me is he bought the three [houses to the west] for a townhouse development of 18 units a lowrise. Apparently, the City came to him after he had bought the three blocks and said, How about considering the Hobbit House? Its now for sale. Would you consider adding that, and incorporating it into a townhouse development? In return, well help you have [more units]. So theyre relaxing the zoning, and, in return, he has to designate the property. Which I think is brilliant.

Heritage consultant Donald Luxton, who was involved with the restoration of the other Hobbit House at 3979 W. Broadway, was then retained to oversee plans for restoring the house.

In June, Luxton told reporters that the intent was to edge the house forward a couple of feet, take out some renovations (such as an elevator to the roof) that were done in the 70s, and keep it as a separate home in front of the townhouse complex. Repairs will also be made to the iconic roof.

When reached for an update, Luxton was unable to comment on planning progress, as negotiations are still going with the City.

An initial enquiry has been made, he explained in an email, and we are discussing the level of intervention as well as the proposed density for the site.

Constructed by builder Brenton Lea in 1930, the house was conceived by architect Ross Lort, who also designed Casa Mia on SW Marine Drive.

Dr. Arn Pentland and his wife Mabel bought the house in 1976. On her blog, Lazarus quotes from a 2004 story about the couple: Like everyone else my wife and I were in love with it.

More history at EveLazarus.com.

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