A bunch of balloons could be the only thing to save Edith Macefield’s legendary Ballard house; if it can’t be sold or donated, it will be demolished. The 100-year-old house is too old to meet the city’s commercial building codes, and the planned buyers backed out because it isn’t cost-effective to bring new life into the iconic house. If the house isn’t moved within the next 90 days, it could face a wrecking ball.
Macefield made headlines several years ago when she refused to sell her house for $1 million to developers, and her defiance sparked a movement of Ballardites who praised her unwillingness to sell out. Passionate followers even tattooed Macefield’s two-story abode with the words “Steadfast” to honor her. It was also rumored to be the inspiration for the movie “Up!” because of its resemblance to the house in the popular Pixar film (however, “Up!” isn’t based on a true story, says Pixar).
Now, after several years of uncertainty, its future once again is hanging by a thread. After a highly publicized pending sale, a mother and daughter duo won the bid for their idea to turn the house into a cafe and pie shop named Edith Pie. However, after learning what it would cost to have it comply with the city’s commercial code, they’ve now backed out. Paul Thomas, the listing broker for the house, says the age and condition of the house make it cost prohibitive for anyone to use the house in its current location. That means it will be donated or demolished, and the land will be sold.
In a statement, Thomas said other buyers have also determined that the development of the house for commercial use isn’t economically feasible, and that residential use would face a steep uphill battle. It also doesn’t qualify for a historical designation because it was completely rebuilt by the prior owner. “It is really discouraging that developers can find ways to build multiple tall and skinny houses on a single residential lot but bringing new life to Edith Macefield’s house isn’t financially viable because there are so many hurdles,” Thomas says.
The house has changed hands a few times since Macefield willed it to her friend Barry Martin. He sold it in 2009 to developers who promised to elevate and preserve it. That project failed, and the home went to foreclosure earlier this year. The contest to buy the house attracted 38 bidders, and each offer was scored for its proposed memorial to Macefield, its terms and the dollar amount. Now, with the winning bidders pulling out, the seller “has reluctantly concluded” that their best option is to donate the house and sell the land.
Thomas says they’ll accept proposals from potential recipients for 30 days through his website www.NoBSBroker.com. However, if there is no qualified recipient who is capable of moving the house in the next 90 days, Macefield’s home will face the wrecking ball.