Mountain View Voice

News - November 12, 2010

Bakotich house saved in new co-housing plan

by Daniel DeBolt

It was nearly set for demolition or removal, but now the 1880s Bakotich house on Calderon Avenue may be preserved along with a new senior housing project on the property.

The tree-shrouded Bakotich house, known as the city's second oldest home, would be restored to its original, smaller size and moved to the front of the 1.3-acre property at 445 Calderon Ave. under the latest proposal from the Mountain View Co-housing Community.

Moving the home that the Bakotich family lived in for the better part of a century would make way for a new shared senior housing: a three story condominium building with 19 units for the seniors, shared recreation spaces and an underground parking garage.

An effort earlier this year to have the Victorian farmhouse house moved, possibly to a vacant lot in the Shoreline West neighborhood, did not pan out, as the property owner said it would have been too costly, said Susan Burwen. She has been leading the group of seniors with her husband David after purchasing the property last year with the help of investors.

The restored house would be used as a guesthouse for the seniors, reducing the size of the condo building.

"I think it will be a nice addition," Burwen said. "It gives a sense of entrance."

The proposal is good news to city officials, who were trying to find ways to encourage the house to be part of the project, said zoning administrator Peter Gilli earlier this year.

"It makes it an attractive project," said council member Jac Siegel, who wanted the city to buy and preserve the house after Anne Bakotich passed away in 2007. "It makes it something people are proud to have in their city."

The cost of restoring and moving the historic house is unknown, Burwen said, but preserving it will save a significant amount of money on an environmental impact report that would have been necessary before demolishing it.

In the previous proposal, costs to buy a condo ranged from $750,000 for a 1,370-square-foot unit to $1.25 million for a 2,050-square-foot unit. An underground parking garage and an elevator have already pushed up prices.

"That's the critical issue," Gilli said earlier this year. "If it becomes so expensive that they can't attract buyers, the whole project stops."

To reduce the size of the 1,700-square-foot house, some more recent additions made to the rear would be removed. Burwen said that "80 percent of the original house" would be preserved. It would also drop several feet in height as it will be placed on a lower foundation.

There are 10 senior households seriously committed to buying into the project, Burwen said, and many more who are interested. She says the experience has been "gratifying" so far.

More information is available at www.mountainviewcohousing.org.

E-mail Daniel DeBolt at ddebolt@mv-voice.com

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