British Columbia

Vancouver Hobbit house facing sale and rezoning

One of two so-called Hobbit houses in Vancouver is up for sale, and heritage advocates are worried its days are numbered because of its prime location.

Realtor advertises property near Canada Line station as having 'huge potential for rezoning'

One of two so-called Hobbit houses in Vancouver is up for sale, and heritage advocates are worried its days are numbered because of its prime location.

The early 1940s thatched-roof-style house at 587 W. King Edward Avenue sits just a half a block from a Canada Line rapid transit system in an area undergoing fast change.

The property and the 2,416-square-foot character house is listed for $2.86 million.

"Infamous Vancouver Hobbit House. Character intact. Fabulous VIEWS!" says the MLS listing by Sutton Group realtor Mary Ellen Maasik.

The listing also notes the lot is "1/2 block from Canada Line. In the Heart of the Cambie Corridor, with huge potential for rezoning as a part of the City Cambie Corridor Plan."

The character house, which is affectionately known in the neighbourhood also as the gnome cottage, the fairytale house and Snow White's house, is listed on the City of Vancouver's heritage B register.

That means that the structure "represents the best examples of a style or type of building," which, in this case, is called the Storybook style.

As a B-registered heritage house, it is not protected from being torn down; however the city is able to offer incentives to owners of B-registered buildings to keep and maintain the structures.

Neighbourhood in transition

Three formerly-single-family lots just west of Cambie Street at King Edward have recently been assembled and sold for $8.1 million as a development property. And three houses immediately west of 587 W King Edward have been sold under contract to a property developer.

Vancouver's other Hobbit house — also known as the Lea House — is at a less-trafficked location, at 3979 West Broadway in Point Grey, and was in need of repair before its owner entered into a heritage revitalization agreement with the city in 2008.

In return for keeping and improving the existing cottage, the property owner was permitted to subdivide the lot and build a second single-family home on the lot.

A 2008 report from the city's director of planning noted that contractor Brenton T. Lea, whose family first lived in the 1942 Storybook house in Point Grey, also built the Storybook house at 587 W King Edward.

The previous owner of the home at 587 W King Edward, Mabel Pentland, is now deceased, her niece said.

With files from the CBC's Kirk Williams