Tar Heel Tattler - April 2006

$5.5 million gets you a giant fixer-upper

Long, long ago — at least in cybertime — there was the dot-com boom. Five years after it went bust, its echo is producing the ultimate handyman’s dream. It’s 23,000 square feet, and the two-lane bowling alley is nice on days when the tennis court is damp.

The Tuscan-style abode in north Raleigh doesn’t challenge the 175,000 square feet of Asheville’s Biltmore House, the nation’s largest private home, for sheer volume. But this one is for sale. The house recently was the largest on the market in North Carolina. The asking price of $5.5 million is modest but comes with some small print: The buyer has to finish the house.

“It’s a dream interrupted,” says David Rutledge, president of The Rutledge Team, the Raleigh real-estate company selling the house. The dream belongs to Michael Le, chief executive of International IT Services, a software-development company founded in 2001 just after the boom began to fade. It has prospered anyway, partly by shifting work to China, Australia and Le’s native Vietnam. But that means he spends much of his time away from Raleigh. That leaves the house — work halted in 2003, when the exterior was about 95% done — more than he wants to juggle.

It has three floors, with the bottom devoted to recreation — the bowling alley and a 50-foot-long swimming pool. There are 11 bedrooms and 101/2 baths. The 20 rooms include a 42-by-24 living room. The outdoor kitchen is connected to the main house by a covered walkway. The interior is at the drywall stage. It’s on 10 wooded acres about 10 minutes from downtown.

Because it has not been finished, financing might require a bridge or construction loan. Then again — listen up, dot-com survivors — cash would be just fine.

By Edward Martin

Corrections

The largest-employers list in the February issue had Hickory-based Alex Lee Inc.’s headquarters in another city.