Thursday, January 04, 2007

Can This House Be Saved?

[Read 'Modern,' our new modern house blog, here.]

The judge in the court case about the fate of Paul Rudolph’s Micheels House, in Westport, suggested that the two sides discuss dismantling the house and moving it elsewhere. A developer named David Waldman wants to buy the house from its original owner, Louis Micheels, for $3.2 million, then tear it down and build something else for his family to live in with views of Long Island Sound. Waldman said yesterday that he stands to lose his $500,000 deposit if he can’t close on the house by the end of the month, although why he can’t ask Micheels for an extension isn’t clear.

WestportNew presents a fairly sympathetic account of Waldman’s situation, and also reported:

During testimony today, Waldman said he had inquired of several ways of demolishing the house, including having someone dismantle and remove the structure if it can be done in a cost-effective and timely manner.

“I am interesting in pursuing that,” he said.

Several people have approached him about dismantling the house, Waldman said, but they have said it may be difficult because the house is on a narrow, private road.

He also offered the drawings of the house to others so it could be replicated in another location, he said.

Adams asked if the matter of dismantling and removing the house had been discussed between the two parties after Waldman made the comments during testimony.

Stephen Conover, one of Waldman’s attorneys, said it has not been discussed and his client was willing to have the discussion.

And here’s what Micheels and a real estate agent said about trying to sell the house:

Micheels testified that he opposes the house’s inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.

“I do not think it’s a historic building,” he said. “It was an experimental building and it’s not like Paul Rudolph’s other houses.”

The house, he said, was a collaborative effort between he, his wife and Rudolph.

Micheels said he and his wife first listed the property in June 2005 for almost $5 million and emphasized the Rudolph connection in the early marketing.

There was very little interest in the property, he said, and at 89 years old, he did not want to wait long to sell the house.

In spring 2006, he said, the marketing for the house was changed to emphasize the property and its views of Long Island Sound.

Ruta said the listing brokers felt it was appropriate to emphasize the Rudolph connection and contacted a number of people who would be interested in such properties.

Those contacted included those who have restored other Rudolph properties and the Paul Rudolph Foundation, he said.

None of the contacts, he said, presented any offers for the home.

When the land was emphasized, he said, there were three bids. One of the bids could not have all of the money in place until two years from now, and the other two bids, which included the Waldmans, was to demolish the house, he said.

[For more on the issue, see The Destruction of Paul Rudolph's Micheels House in the right hand column.]



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