Even when one of its owners was an Internet pornography operator, a Chandler mansion mostly blended into the suburban background for nearly three decades with little notice.
But a new owner’s plan to transform the estate into an event venue with a bed and breakfast has spurred dozens of opponents to block the mansion’s rebirth as Chateau de Vie.
The estate’s lavish grounds along Kyrene Road provide surrounding neighborhoods with a view of the Tudor-style house, more than 200 mature trees, a one-acre pond filled with geese and an unusually green look for a desert dwelling.
Opponents fear an event venue would fill their neighborhoods with noise, and they would rather see the mansion demolished and replaced with a subdivision.
Mansion owners Nick and Shelley Goodman bought the distressed property in 2010 and expect the city will decide this month whether they can continue. Nick Goodman can’t imagine losing a landmark that his insurance carrier said would cost $12 million to rebuild.
“This is an iconic property for the city of Chandler,” Goodman said. “This is a one-of-a-kind property for the Valley as a whole.”
The mansion was built by a framing contractor in 1984 and eventually housed the Internet porn owner and a dentist who lost the home to financial distress in 2009. One potential buyer considered transforming it into a drug and alcohol rehab center before the Goodmans bought it for $3.6 million. The 10.4-acre site had once sold for $12 million.
During a tour, Goodman revealed its splendor and squalor.
Ornate wood carvings, marble carvings, stained glass windows and murals are prominent even in bathrooms. Four hidden passageways lead to secret rooms. The grounds feature more than 200 mature trees and a hedge of 800 ornamental orange trees.
But holes are torn into walls where vandals tried to pull out a safe. Other rooms have water damage or exposed wiring from auctioneers who sold the mansion’s furniture and some fixtures in 2009. Some of the landscaping is distressed from going without water for a year.
Goodman said anybody who could afford the estate probably wouldn’t live there because of Kyrene’s heavy traffic and the high cost of upgrading what’s worn-out or outdated. He only sees it having a future with some commercial use.
Goodman is a third-generation Chandler resident whose father owns what he called Arizona’s largest OB/GYN practice.
A restored mansion would be a focal point for the community, he said.
“We really think this is an opportunity for people who don’t live in a mansion to at least taste it,” Goodman said.
The Goodmans have plans that address the city’s guidelines for traffic and noise, said Jodie Novak, a senior city planner. But after hearing from neighbors, the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission voted against the Goodmans’ request.
Residents in surrounding Chandler and Tempe neighborhoods complained of problems when a former owner defaulted and the property was a target of vandalism. They cited loud parties by a previous owner and even a 1980s Beach Boys concert at a nearby mansion as what might become common.
The chateau would operate from 8 a.m. to midnight for corporate events, weddings, anniversaries, film shoots and more. At times, two or more events could happen at the same time. Goodman said neighbors would hear little noise because he’d need to protect simultaneous events from bothering each other. Also, no amplified music would be allowed.
Goodman argued that as a private home, the mansion had no restrictions against bands or noise. He said the event venue would have much stricter rules under a three-year use permit he’s seeking. And he said events would be capped at less than 800 people, far less than the 3,000 people who overwhelmed the area for the highly publicized auction.
“You have the neighbors who bring up the sins of the past and apply that to us,” he said. “Do you want the guy who filmed porn here? That’s how he paid for it.”
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