One of Vancouver's "Hobbit Houses" will be restored as part of a townhouse development if the owner has his way.
W.T. Leung Architects has filed a rezoning application with the City of Vancouver that includes restoration of the heritage home at 587 West King Edward Avenue as part of a 20-unit three-storey townhouse complex.
"The house will be restored to the original design intent," architect Wing Ting Leung told The Huffington Post B.C., and that will include removing an elevator that was added to the rear.
Developer David Mooney bought the property last year and engaged heritage consultant Donald Luxton to see how the home might be incorporated into a new development.
The Hobbit house is one of three designed by builder Brenton T. Lea in the 1940s. It is listed on the City of Vancouver's heritage B register, meaning it may have some historical significance in the neighbourhood.
The proposal includes two townhouses behind the house itself, with 18 more planned for the adjacent lot.
The city has not yet set a meeting to consider the application.
It feels a bit like whack a mole. One hobbit house gets a reprieve from the bulldozer and the next one comes up for sale. Fortunately the Lea Residence has a heritage designation, which means it can’t be torn down—it even comes with its own plaque.
This is the third time the house at 3979 West Broadway has come up for sale in the last five years. Back in 2009 its future looked shaky when it sold to a developer for $1.65 million. But instead of razing the place, James Curtis did a deal with the City where he sunk close to a million dollars into renovating the house, designated it, and in return was allowed to subdivide and build a second house on the large lot.
The realtor’s blurb says the West Broadway hobbit house offers an option for people wanting to down size, which makes me laugh because that renovation increased the size of the house to 3,000 sq. ft—that’s one gnarly “bungalow.”
3979 West BroadwayThe reno also included a new $200,000 thatch-like roof, which is of course the house’s most distinctive feature.
The house is one of three story-book cottages in Vancouver designed by architect Ross Lort in the early 1940s. Lort also designed Casa Mia for the Reifel family on Southwest Marine Drive. The others are on King Edward in Vancouver and on Braeside in West Van. The Lea House first appears in the city directories in 1941 and is named for its original owner and builder Brenton Lea. Lea sold his house to William Brown a Vancouver dentist, in 1943.
You can get a look inside at the open house tomorrow March 2nd from 2:00 to 4:00 pm.