so our barrio house sat on the market, vacant, for almost nine years before we bought it. yes, that’s NINE YEARS, a crazy long time for any house to go unsold. during that time, people started referring to it as “the Rothschild property.”

it had been bought in 2005 by Mesch, Clark & Rothschild, a tucson law firm that hoped it would be a good investment. they worked with at least one architect on a plan to turn it into several residences, but couldn’t make the numbers work. shortly thereafter, as you may recall, the real estate market crashed. they decided to wait for the market to come back. they waited and they waited and they waited. in the meantime, the house sat, sad and empty and crumbling. the only person who lived there during that time was a homeless guy the firm’s caretaker allowed to take up residence as a deterrent to curious school kids and other vandals. the guy, the caretaker said, had been thrilled with the running hot water (there’s a solar water heater in the backyard), and the wood stove in the kitchen.

barrio neighbors accused the owners ¬†of “demolition by neglect,” and many still believe the law firm would have preferred to simply raze the structure and sell off the parcels (land in barrio viejo is becoming more and more valuable), but were hampered by the historic status of the house (it’s listed on the national register) as well as the election of jonathan rothschild as mayor of tucson. he’s a lawyer who was once with the firm; his father, lowell, is a partner (hence the firm’s name). certainly it’s hard to argue with the notion that tearing down one of the barrio’s last, iconic places wouldn’t exactly have reflected well on the mayor. the rothschild’s, for their part, have always maintained they had no plans to level the building.

this article from the Arizona Daily Star, and this one¬†from Tucson Weekly, both spotlighted the house’s continuing decline.

whatever the true intentions of the previous owner’s may have been (and as i don’t know them at all, i can’t really speculate), by my calculations they lost about 100K on the place. that includes nine years of taxes, repairs (they did do a few, here and there, even if they were fairly half-hearted), and other miscellaneous expenses, as well as what they lost on the purchase price by finally agreeing to sell it at a loss.

so that’s the last nine years of the house’s history. more to come soon on the 100+ that preceded them.