By Jon Bell Staff Reporter, Portland Business Journal
Mark Wattles had grand plans for a singular 32-acre property along the banks of the Willamette River in West Linn.
The founder of Hollywood Video had bought the property in his early 30s for $1.25 million in 1994, and by 1997, construction was underway on Wattles’ dream home, a sprawling, 50,000-square-foot mansion with three stories, underground parking for his car collection, a full-court gymnasium, an indoor swimming pool, an elevator and more.
But life and business plans changed for Wattles, and two years later, he all but stopped construction on the home. Minor projects and seasonal maintenance continued — largely to keep the building permit open — but for the most part, the home sat framed and unfinished.
For almost 20 years.
Now 57, Wattles has decided he’s never going to finish the project and it’s time to sell.
“I’ve gone back and forth over the years on whether to finish it or not, and I’ve finally made the decision that it’s not going to happen. I’m never going to finish it for myself,” Wattles said. “It was going to be my little oasis. Now it will be somebody else’s.”
The property sits at 32020 S.W. Peach Cove Rd. on the banks of the Willamette River in West Linn. Because the river makes an almost 90-degree bend there, the property offers an expansive, 270-degree view of the river and almost 2,700 feet of river frontage.
The home on the site is a long way from being finished, but it is substantially in-progress. Images show essentially a shell of a home, windowless and wrapped largely in Tyvek, a synthetic construction material that helps keep moisture out. Interior photos that were not made available for publication show the huge gymnasium with glulam beams spanning the ceiling, exposed wooden rafters and beams in various rooms and sheet after sheet of plywood on the floors and walls.
Rather than list the home with a broker, Wattles said he decided to sell it through an auction in part to attract a wider, national audience. To do that, Wattles hired Platinum Luxury Auctions out of Miami.
Trayor Lesnock, president of Platinum Luxury Auctions, said he was admittedly a tad worried about what shape the home might be in before he saw it for himself.
“I was very surprised to see the condition of it,” he said. “I did not have high hopes just because anything that’s been sitting there in the Oregon weather for that long … But it actually looks like it was built in just the past few years.”
The auction is set for 7 p.m. Thursday, June 14. It may be held at the site, but Lesnock said that could change with the weather. It will be a live auction without a reserve, meaning there is no minimum bid and the highest offer will win. Prospective bidders have to put down a substantial financial commitment up front just to participate, though their money is refunded if they’re not the highest bidder.
As for price or what the property could command, Lesnock said that with such an “exotic” site with few comparable parcels for context, it’s almost anyone’s guess.
“If it’s a 5,000-square-foot home in a subdivision of other 5,000-square-foot homes, we can get a good idea,” he said. “In this case, we have almost no expectation that would have any degree of precision.”
Wattles said he has invested about $12 million into the property.
According to Clackamas County property records, the total market value of the property is about $6.6 million, but Lesnock said that number won’t mean much at this auction.
“I would say that’s relevant to the tax man and the tax man only,” he said.
Lesnock also noted that the home sits closer to the river than is now allowed under current zoning, which gives it another unique attribute, and the 5 acres of the property planted with blueberries qualify it for an agricultural tax abatement.
As he prepares to sell his once-dream property, Wattles said he has no regrets that it never came to be. He still spends about a third of his time in West Linn, divvying up the balance between Dallas, Texas and a house in Punta Mita, Mexico. His hard-charging business days have eased back a bit, but he’s still getting after it, most recently with a Dutch Bros-inspired coffee operation called 151 Coffee that should have five locations open in Texas and Colorado by year’s end.
“I’m so far past that,” he said about possible regrets over the riverfront estate. “I was in my early 30s when I bought that land. I’m still the same business guy who likes to grow things fast, but my dreams and aspirations are wildly different now.”
Click here for a look at Wattles’ soon-to-be-auctioned property, and here to view the original story.