September 22, 2014
The Oregonian: Laurelhurst neighborhood's Markham House under sale contract, averting demolition for now
Published by the Oregonian | By Elliot Njus
Two developers have signed an agreement over a Laurelhurst neighborhood house, averting a demolition previously scheduled for Monday while neighbors try to raise more money to close the deal.
Developer Peter Kusyk bought the house in June and planned to demolish it after a remodel didn't appear financially viable. Neighbors launched a petition to stop the demolition and eventually found a builder, John McCulloch, who said he could preserve the house for $600,000.
Kusyk said he would sell the house for $700,000 — the $467,148 he paid for the house, plus $100,000 in additional costs he's incurred and the profit he expected from selling the two lots on which the house sits.
Neighbors are trying to raise money to close the gap. As of Monday, a crowdfunding campaign to save the house had raised $12,780. The neighbors will have to come up with another $37,000 by Oct. 22 for the deal to close.
"It's a chance for the community to say, yeah, this is important to us," Kusyk said. "Everybody has the same problem. If you don't want to solve it by contributing money, then why should you want someone else — John or me — to solve it?"
Kusyk said he wants to see McCulloch succeed in the fundraising and the renovation project. But if the deal doesn't close, Kusyk said, he's prepared to go ahead with the demolition.
McCulloch, meanwhile, said the house isn't going to be kept exactly the same even if the purchase goes through.
The house, built in 1911, was one of the first in the Laurelhurst neighborhood, built on farmland once owned by Portland's Ladd family, according to the Architectural Heritage Center. It originally served as home and office to the real estate agent for the development.
But while it was built to look substantial, the upstairs has ceilings of about 5 feet, six inches, and it has only about 1,500 square feet of livable space.
"It's kind of a sham, in a way," he said. "Kind of a false front."
McCulloch plans to put $400,000 into the restoration. But to warrant a $1 million price tag — at which McCulloch says he doesn't expect to make a profit — he'll need to add to that square footage.
But that will help protect the home into the future, McCulloch said.
"When somebody buys it for that million-dollar price level, they're not going to tear it down," he said. "By making the renovation in keeping with the (period) character, so it looks like it's always been there, it'll never be torn down."
The Laurelhurst Gate, a landmark that extends onto the property, is protected by a deed restriction, Kusyk said.