New suitor for Steve Jobs' historic house
The 17,000-square-foot Woodside mansion was built in 1926
by Andrea Gemmet
A new suitor is offering to take the massive, historic Jackling house in Woodside off of Steve Jobs' hands.
Mr. Jobs wants to rid himself of the derelict 17,000-square-foot mansion, built in 1926 by celebrated architect George Washington Smith. Mr. Jobs' plan to demolish the enormous Spanish colonial revival-style home is in limbo due to a legal challenge brought by historic preservationists.
In the meantime, he is trying to give it away to anyone who will take it off of its Mountain Home Road site in Woodside and restore it elsewhere.
Gordon Smythe of Palo Alto-based Propel Properties has offered to take on the project, estimated to cost between $4 million and $6 million. In his proposal, he said that Mr. Jobs offered to pay $150,000 for debris removal and $350,000 in moving expenses to Propel.
"I sincerely hope it will lead to something," said Clotilde Luce, whose family owned the house in the 1960s. She heads Uphold Our Heritage, the preservation group fighting to save the Jackling house.
"Our group always knew people wanted this house, and I hope we can go further with Mr. Smythe," Ms. Luce said. "Our members are reasonable people; they know you rarely get everything you want."
The group was surprised that Howard Ellman, Steve Jobs' attorney who is handling the relocation proposals, chose to release the Propel Properties proposal, Ms. Luce said. There have been several other serious proposals, including one made last year by Woodside resident Richard Pivnicka.
"The one thing that has been totally lacking, through no fault of Smythe or anyone trying to bid on this house, is some kind of transparency for reviewing all bids," she said.
Propel Properties said their team would dismantle and remove the house within six months, and rebuild it within five years at a location yet to be determined.
"It is our intention to preserve as much as possible of the original structure, but we reserve the right to modify the additions in order to restore some of the original architectural integrity," the proposal states.
"What bothers me, personally, about this proposal is the vagueness about where the house would be relocated," said Barbara Wood, a Woodside resident who owns a historic house and is a columnist for the Almanac. "Their options include, among others, Milpitas, Livermore and Gilroy, as well as Arizona, all of which seem rather inappropriate. If the house must be moved, I would prefer it remain within the community."
In January, a San Mateo County Superior Court judge upheld the preservation group's lawsuit and rejected the Woodside Town Council's decision to allow the Jackling has to be demolished if Mr. Jobs could not find a qualified proposal to restore the house off-site. Mr. Jobs filed an appeal in February; the appeal is ongoing. In the meantime, Mr. Jobs' attorney has continued to accept and review proposals for removing the house.
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