Kevin Rose halts plans to raze 122-year-old house in Portland

After pleas from neighbors, the Google Ventures partner and his wife accept an offer to sell the house to a longtime resident of the area who plans to preserve it.

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Kevin Rose and his wife have decided not to demolish this house, built in 1892, in Portland, Ore. Anne Dujmovic/CNET

PORTLAND, Ore.--"Google, Be Good! Take the offer!" reads the sign posted below the 122-year-old house on a hillside in Northwest Portland.

The "Google" in this case is Kevin Rose, a partner at Google Ventures and founder of Digg. The message was from neighbors upset that Rose and his wife appeared to be moving ahead with plans to demolish the house, one of the oldest in the Willamette Heights area. The offer was a bid from a longtime resident of the area who plans to buy the house and restore it.

The Roses said Tuesday evening they have taken the offer. The agreement isn't final, but the couple hope to "wrap things up quickly," they said in a statement.

Late Monday night, the Roses were sent a cash offer for what the couple paid when they bought the home last winter -- $1.3 million. The offer was sweetened Tuesday morning, according to a report in the Oregonian.

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Anne Dujmovic/CNET
Neighbors in the Willamette Heights area pleaded with the Roses to save the house, and even started a Change.org petition laying out their case. As of Tuesday evening, the online petition had nearly 3,000 signatures.

The Roses said they took all of the comments -- whether it was arguments for homeowners' rights or for the preservation of old homes -- "to heart."

"We decided on Portland not as an investment property or vacation spot, but as a place we hope to one day call home, a place to raise our family," they said. "We love so much about your beautiful city, and your strong community bond is high up on that list. While we could have legally put our heads down and proceeded forward, that's not the type of relationship we want with our neighbors and our new city friends."

In a response to the online petition late last week, Kevin Rose explained why they decided to demolish the house instead of remodel, as they had initially told neighbors.

"The costs were higher than we anticipated, and we knew we could never recoup that kind of money on a 100-year-old house," 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."

Plans revealed Tuesday show the Roses intended to replace the house with a modern 5,900-square-foot, three-level structure, dubbed the "Deku Tree retreat" (PDF).

"Deku Tree" appears to be a reference to the Great Deku Tree in the Legend of Zelda video game series. According to the Zelda Wiki, the Great Deku Tree is the "fatherly guardian of the forest who safeguards not only the dense land around him, but the small population of beings that live in his shadow."

CNET has contacted Kevin Rose for a comment. We will update this story when we hear back.

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About the author

Anne Dujmovic is an associate editor at CNET News. After working more than a dozen years in newspapers, including a seven-year stint at the San Jose Mercury News, Anne migrated north to Portland, Ore. There, she honed her pastry-making skills as an apprentice. Although she's returned to journalism, she still misses the free pastries. E-mail Anne.

 

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