A Shire no more

Visions for a Hobbit-themed subdivision plan in Bend are long gone

By Elon Glucklich / The Bulletin

Among dozens of Bend real estate developments that collapsed with the 2008 housing crash, perhaps none typified the market’s dizzying highs and depressing lows like a 31-lot subdivision in southeast Bend, at the intersection of Ring Bearer Court and Shire Lane.

What by now was supposed to be a small community of homes dubbed “The Shire,” with architecture inspired by the Lord of the Rings trilogy, is mostly bare land today.

And while a Hood River equity firm has owned much of the property since 2009, development there has been sparse. Six homes dot the subdivision. Only two of them feature the cottage-style architecture, complete with small, circular Hobbit doors, that original developer Ron Meyers had envisioned for the 6-acre property.

He lost the property to foreclosure in 2008 with just two homes built, before the Hood River firm, Castle Partners, L.P., bought it a year later.

The Shire has a less conspicuous name today: Forest Creek. But it’s uncertain if any new development is in the pipeline there.

A local real estate agent with Bend Premier Real Estate who lists the subdivision’s available lots didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

Two local building companies have come and gone from the project since Castle Partners took over.

Brad Miller Construction of Bend built two homes between 2010 and 2012. Then, Schumacher Construction built a pair of properties.

But the company has been out of the development plan since finishing its second home last summer, Schumacher Project Manager Dan Pena said.

“I don’t think anything is being built there,” Pena said.

Meyers first proposed The Shire in 2005, at the height of Bend’s real estate boom. No plan seemed too lavish at a time when median home prices in the city edged toward $400,000.

One of the two Hobbit-style houses sold for $650,000 in late 2007, according to Deschutes County property records. But the project never caught on — the magic partially obscured by a mobile-home park just beyond an irrigation canal yards away from the property.

Castle Partners bought the entire subdivision for $750,000. The $650,000 home sold again in 2012, for $227,000.

The collapse of The Shire garnered national headlines, including a 2009 article in The Atlantic, titled “The Shire: When Dreams Become Delusions.”

Pena said the project still has potential, though Schumacher is no longer involved. He said the Castle Advisers group seems to be holding on to the other lots as a long-term investment.

Attempts to reach the Hood River group were unsuccessful.

“We would have loved to build more,” Pena said. “We loved that area.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7820, eglucklich@bendbulletin.com