The Bend real estate market shows no signs of reviving yet, but the market for weirdness may have bottomed out.
First evidence: "The Shire," the bizarre Tolkien-themed development off Parrell Road on Bend's Eastside, has been put up for sale at a rock-bottom price by Umpqua Bank, which foreclosed on it in mid-January.
The bank held an auction on the property at the end of December and received no bids. It's now asking $1.3 million for the whole kit and caboodle, covering six acres and including 14 empty lots and one partly built house.
The value of the original loan: $3.4 million.
"This was a new development starting at a time that was unfortunate," The Bulletin quoted an Umpqua Bank VP as saying.
True, the timing of The Shire couldn't have been worse. But The Eye wonders how anyone could have thought a development of half-million-dollar-and-up homes designed to look like a hobbit village would have sold even at the height of the boom. In our experience very few people who are really into Tolkien have that kind of money, and vice versa.
Second evidence: The Eye was browsing in Barnes & Noble this morning and spotted the book written by Thomas Beattie, Bend's Pregnant Man, on sale for $3.98. That's a markdown of more than 84% from the cover price of $24.95.
As a Barnes & Noble member, The Eye could have gotten a further 10% off and picked up "Labor of Love" for a mere $3.59. We passed.