'Hobbit house' for sale for $2.86 million

The storybook-style cottage often referred to as a hobbit house at 587 West King Edward Ave. is on the market for $2.86 million.

The listing, by Mary Ellen Maasik of Sutton Group, states: The infamous Vancouver Hobbit House. Character intact. Fabulous VIEWS! ½ block from Canada Line. In the Heart of the Cambie Corridor, with huge potential for rezoning as part of the City Cambie Corridor Plan.

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The 2,416-square-foot two-bedroom house is on a 50-by-130 foot lot. Maasik said it's an estate sale and the property was listed at the end of April.

"It's in original character condition. It's got shipdeck hardwood flooring, beautiful walnut doors and woodbeam ceilings," she said. "The kitchen is knotty pine and it's very traditional the style of the house."

Maasik noted the roof is what's so special, estimating it would cost more than $100,000 to replace.

Designed by architect Ross Lort and constructed by builder Brenton Lea in 1941, the home is on the City of Vancouver's Heritage B list. The designation means it's significant and indicates, according to the city, that the site represents a good example of a particular style or type, either individually or collectively. It may have some historical or cultural significance in a neighbourhood.

It's one of three virtually identical houses built in the region — a second one is at 3979 West Broadway and a third is in West Vancouver at 885 Braeside St.

In 2008, a heritage revitalization agreement between the owner of the house at 3979 West Broadway and the city saved that property, which had been vacant for some time and vandalized. Prior to the agreement, that home didn't have a heritage designation to prevent it from being torn down to make way for a development.

Well known conservationist Donald Luxton was the heritage consultant for the project.

He told the Courier he's concerned about the fate of the home at 587 West King Edward Ave., although it depends on who buys it.

Residential buildings, especially of that small size with that value of land, are threatened, he wrote in an email to the Courier.

"The city is well aware of the heritage value of the building, but a new owner would not currently be constrained, other than by the Heritage Register listing, which by itself does not prevent demolition."

Matt Shillito, the city's assistant director of community planning, said the house earned its Heritage B designation in 1986 to recognize its heritage and architectural value, but acknowledged it's not protected from redevelopment.

"Putting it on the register with a designation of any kind recognizes its value. In order to protect it from demolition, for example, the further step would need to be taken by applying the heritage bylaw to it and that has not happened in this particular case," he said. "Having it on the heritage register basically flags it to our attention and gives us an introduction to talk to the owners and offer incentives to make it viable to retain the building or whatever it is of heritage merit. They're all done on a case by case basis."

noconnor@vancourier.com

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