Crowdsourcing to save Berkeley home floated by Realtor.
Crowdsourcing last-ditch effort to save home from wrecking ball.
Crowdsourcing unlikely to work, Peter Witulski admits.
Peter Witulski wants to save a home in Berkeley from the wrecking ball.
Although Witulski is in real estate, he isn’t part of the development team that he expects will raze the home at 4469 Tennyson St.in Berkeley.
Rather, he would like to buy it and move it on his own home site where he and his wife Holly live, about a mile to the south.
“We just live in the neighborhood,” said Witulski, a real estate broker.
“The home has long been one of our favorites. I think it is one of the favorites of a lot of people in the neighborhood.”
The only problem is that he can’t afford the estimated cost of moving the 108-year-old home on Tennyson Street,. That’s because the process also would include demolishing his own home on West 36th Avenue and moving the Tennyson home there.
He estimates the project would cost north of $250,000. Initially, he estimated it would cost $150,000.
As a last-ditch effort to save the 1,519-square-foot Tennyson home, on Thursday he reached out for crowdsourcing funds. With crowdsourcing, strangers commit to fund a project, although in many cases they receive little or no direct financial return.
Frankly, Witulski doesn’t think it will succeed.
“My thought is that there are so many people who want to put their money toward saving older homes, if it were $5,000 you could do that,” Witulski said. But in his case, he estimates he needs to raise $50,000 or more.
“Realistically, given the amount we need, I do not see that happening,” he said.
He doesn’t have any experience with crowdsourcing sites such as GoFundMe, but would like to talk to people who have raised money through crowdsourcing.
The best, but still slim, hope of saving the house, he believes, would be if an excavation company would donate its services or cut him a really sweet deal. His current home, with about 1,200 square feet of space, does not have a basement. That means a basement would need to be dug and a foundation poured.
“Frankly, it probably would make more financial sense to tear our house down and build a new one. It probably is less expensive. But then we wouldn’t be saving an older house that we love.”
His crowdsourcing efforts also are complicated because he doesn’t have much time.
He and his wife need to submit architectural drawing by mid-July for what he called a “lengthy and complicated plan.”
“We are looking at two weeks or less to raise a large sum of money,” he sighed.
Witulski has long admired the Tennyson house.
On June 1, the home was sold to 4469 Tennyson Development LLC, out of Syosset, New York, for $745,000, according to public records..
Witulski has spoken to the principal of the company, Leonard Taub, about moving the house.
“He’s open to the idea,” Witulski said. “It would save him the demolition cost and asbestos removal, so he has an incentive.”
Witulski has not talked to Taub about his plans for the site. Preliminary information filed with Denver indicates he is considering building eight residential units on the site. Denver Real Estate Watch on late Thursday could not immediately reach a local architect and a developer familiar with the site.
A rule of thumb is that developers need to have sales at least three times their investment in the land, so Taub likely would need to sell homes for about $2.2 million for the investment to pencil out.
New townhomes and apartments continue to spring up on Tennyson Street.
In this case, there is a new project just to the south of the home and east of it, across Tennyson Street.
The site is zoned U-MX-3. That is a mixed-use zoning that allows three-story buildings.
At one point, the property was owned by famed Denver architect Frank Edbrooke, Witulski learned, while researching the property.
However, it is unclear whether Edbrooke, who designed the Brown Palace and many other iconic buildings in Denver, had any hand in the design of the home, he said.
The developer already has a certificate of non-historic status from the city, so a Landmark designation is not in the cards, Witulski said.
Witulski missed an opportunity to buy the home during the real estate recession.
“About four years ago, the home was in foreclosure and someone picked it up for $283,000,” Witulski said.
“I wasn’t paying any attention, and by the time I realized it was available, it already was under contract,” he said.
Then, it traded hands for $450,00 and another developer bought it last year for $650,000, with plans of scraping it, he said.
“They decided not to develop the site themselves and sold it to the current owner,” Witulski said.
It Witulski’s long shot funding effort fails, the home likely will be demolished.
Not only the exterior will be lost, but so will the inter, which he said has been lovingly restored, he said.
“Edbrooke first sold it to an artist and I don’t know if he did any of the original work, but it is truly beautiful inside,” Witulski said.
Witulski noted that developers have had a lot of success selling townhomes on Tennyson.
“This is a great house that just happens to be on the wrong street.”
Interested in buying a home in Berkeley? Please visit 8z Real Estate.
Have a story idea or real estate tip? Contact John Rebchook at JRCHOOK@gmail.com. DenverRealEstateWatch.com is sponsored by 8z Real Estate. To read more articles by John Rebchook, subscribe to the Colorado Real Estate Journal.