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Town OKs Jobsian tear-down

Steve's house ripe for demolition

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After an eight-year legal wrangle, Steve Jobs can finally tear down the crumbling mansion he purchased 25 years ago.

Maybe.

The town council of the affluent Silicon Valley outpost of woodsy Woodside voted 6-1 on Tuesday to grant Jobs the permit needed to tear down his sprawling 14-bedroom, 17,250-square-foot Spanish colonial revival estate, built in the mid-1920s by famed architect George Washington Smith for copper baron Daniel C. Jackling.

Jobs first announced his intention to tear down what the locals call the Jackling Estate in 2001 and replace it with a much smaller home of about one-third the size.

Since then, the issue has been tied up in the courts and debated in Woodside Town Council meetings as preservationists sued to stop the demolition and Jobs fought to assert his property rights.

One preservationist group, the Friends of the Jackling House, received support from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which submitted a letter in support of their efforts to save the house from demolition in 2004.

Another group, Uphold Our Heritage, sued to stop the demolition, saying that the project's original environmental impact report didn't prove that restoring the house to liveablility and historical authenticity would cost more than tearing it down and building a more up-to-date domicile.

Jobs countered with an architect's report (PDF) that concluded that a restoration project would cost $13.3m (£8.8m), while constructing Jobs's preferred modern, environmentally friendly home would cost $8.3m (£5.5).

A peek inside the Jackling Estate showed that any restoration effort would be quite major, indeed.

According to a report by the San Jose Mercury News, it seems that at least one Woodside Town Council's member's decision was based on the fact that Jobs's planned replacement was far more environmentally friendly than the giant mansion, and that Woodside's town policy prefers smaller homes on large lots such as that of the Jackson Estate.

So Jobs won this round, but possibly not the war. The Merc reports that when the president of Uphold Our Heritage, Clotilde Luce, was asked about the Woodside Town Council's decision, her reply was "We already sued, and we won. I wish [the council] had paid attention to the law."

Somehow we feel as if bulldozers won't be rumbling up to Woodside anytime soon. ®

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