One of Apple chief Steve Jobs' longer personal struggles is returning to the limelight as a local town council is reviewing his request to demolish a historic house once described by the executive as an "abomination."
The review would follow previously unmentioned dialogue between Jobs and the Town Council from last year where the Apple co-founder had made a more concerted effort to persuade local officials that scrapping the 1925-era building was more efficient than restoring it to a workable condition. A permit application attempt from 2008 broke down the costs and explained that it would take $13.3 million to restore Jackling House — which sprawls over 17,250 square feet and hasn't been used for 10 years — but only $8.2 million to build a completely new, 6,000-square-foot home in its place.
In September, Jobs also claimed through his lawyer Howard Ellman that he had made a "persistent and expensive effort" to offer the house to someone else rather than take on the work himself. Two are still considering a move but haven't made any tangible commitments, he said.
Even so, Jobs is still expected to face stiff opposition during the 2009 review process. The same Uphold Our Heritage organization that overturned Jobs' permit in 2007 disputes the claims made by Jobs. COH lawyer Doug Carstens insists that Jobs hasn't actively sought out a buyer in some time and claims that the CEO is exaggerating the costs by assuming that he would have to shoulder all the costs himself, rather than splitting them with a buyer.
The preservation society considers Jackling House too important to destroy as it reflects a Spanish Colonial Revival style that has few remaining examples left. Previously, COH accused Jobs of letting the building fall apart to make a new building easier to justify than maintaining an old building which he has openly disdained as an eyesore.
If Jobs is successful in a review of his request, though, it will bring to an end a municipal fight that has occupied much of the decade: Jobs had originally filed for a permit to demolish the building in 2001 and got the go-ahead in 2004, only to have it contested and rejected three years later.