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Obama adviser sparks neighbor ire by tearing up historic homes for mansion

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Residents of a quiet New York City suburb are outraged after watching one of President Obama's key advisers — billionaire hedge fund founder David E. Shaw — make way for his $40 million mansion by tearing down three homes that were built during prewar times.

"[I'm] deeply saddened" by the destruction of these homes, said Peter Disolfi, an architect who lives in Hastings-on-Hudson, where Mr. Shaw and his journalist wife, Beth Kobliner, bought three properties and merged them to make room for their planned 30,000-square-foot mansion, The New York Times reported. "A village is a collection of buildings that relate to each other and to the landscape."

And the couple's new mansion — a modern, futuristic-type design by Steven Holl that includes a guest house estimated by itself at $7.9 million — doesn't fit the character of the area, he said, The Daily Mail reported.

Construction plans submitted to the Hastings Building Department show that Mr. Shaw's new mansion will have a sparse gray exterior, broken up by massive windows. The other homes in the community are Tudor and Colonial-style, The Daily Mail reported.

"It's totally out of character with what Hastings is all about," said another resident, Mark David, who's lived in the community of about 8,000 for 22 years, The Daily Mail reported.

Hastings was dubbed "Hipsturbia" in a New York Times profile last year because of its draw for young urbanites who seek a more permanent and peaceful setting to settle down and raise a family. The community's political leanings are mostly Democratic — a good fit for Mr. Shaw, who's a large donor to the Democratic Party and a member of President Obama's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, The Daily Mail reported.

Mr. Shaw's new home will provide about $1 million in tax revenues each year for the local government — and most of that will bolster the schools, The Daily Mail reported. But his planned home is massive even by Hastings standards. The average property tax bill for the community is only about $19,000 a year — so Mr. Shaw's revenues contribution will equal about 50 homes, The Daily Mail said.

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