Why Won't Anyone Buy Walt Disney's Childhood Home?
You might think it's "Looney Tunes" if the price and the powerhouse name don't sell the home in a New York minute. But it turns out that the Disney name isn't necessarily enough to close the deal.
The home has been listed at a new, lower price for more than a year -- and there haven't been any bites, according to Radoje Popovic, the real estate agent and owner of Disney's former Chicago digs. Before that, it was on the market for more than three years at $280,000, he said.
"There's plenty of interest in the home, no doubt," Popovic said. "But actually closing the deal, that's a different story. Because of the name, it attracts interest from lots of different characters, especially artists -- lots of artists. But typically artists don't have any money."
Though Popovic has had several nibbles in the past, the sales never went through. In each case, the would-be owners were unable to get financing for the home.
That may ultimately be a good thing, though, Popovic said. What he really wants is for the home to be transformed into a thriving neighborhood arts center that pays homage to the life and achievements of Walt Disney. To this day, the iconic home -- where Disney was born in 1901 and lived until he was 5 years old -- lacks a historic landmark designation. Though preservationists campaigned for the home to be granted landmark status in 1991, the process was stalled by then-owner June Saathoff, who argued that the landmark status may make the property hard to sell.
Even sans the bronze plaque designating landmark status, however, the home at 2156 N. Tripp Ave. still attracts Disney devotees -- from all over the world.
"Once I was cutting the grass and a guy from Hamburg, Germany, wanted to take a picture of the house," Popovic said. "I asked him what he was doing out here, and he said: 'To visit Walt Disney's birth home, of course.'"
The filmmaker's iconic former home joins a handful of film-associated homes currently on the market, including the "Deep Throat" home in Miami, the "Strangers When We Meet" home in Los Angeles and the "Steel Magnolias" home in Natchitoches, La. (pictured at right).
According to Andy Osborn of Coldwell Banker, the realtor of the "Steel Magnolias" home, though homes with a famous film history will attract plenty of interest, it's all about finding the right kind of buyer.
"It's such a beautiful, niche property," says Osborn. "Because of the unique history of the house and the cult-like following that the movie generated, we've been very cautious about who we show the home to. It's a very special home that will require a very special buyer."
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