The internet is alive with news that Zuckerberg bought homes surrounding his own just to tear them down, perhaps out of spite. But as anyone in PR knows, there is often more to the story than at first meets the eye — for better or for worse.
According to CNN, Zuckerberg actually bought the four houses back in 2012 and 2013. However, he only just submitted plans to demolish the homes and then rebuild smaller, more modern replacements.
The media speculates that Zuckerberg bought the homes to secure his own privacy in Palo Alto. Reports claim that the Facebook CEO learned that a developer planned to build a home next to his — one tall enough to look into his master bedroom.
Records also show that security remains on the top of Zuckerberg’s list. Just last year, Facebook provided the CEO with more than $5 million dollars to pay for personal security services. These security services covered both home and transportation.
Security concerns might account for the fact that three of the proposed structures are only one story tall and take up only half of the space allowed on the property. However, the proposals insist that this is to lessen the footprint of the homes, making them blend in with the natural gardens and landscaping. The proposals also emphasized the builders’ wishes to preserve the trees and to minimize impact by building all four houses simultaneously.
In spite of the grand plans Zuckerberg has in mind for these houses, he’s made no indication as to whether or not he plans to sell or rent them after completion.
The purchase of the homes was, unfortunately, not without incident. Zuckerberg recently settled with a real estate developer, Mircea Voskerician, who allegedly sold him one of the properties at a discounted price in exchange for networking opportunities with the higher-ups. He claims Zuckerberg did not keep his end of the bargain.
During the hearings, Voskerician reportedly used tampered evidence to support his claim. As a result, Voskerician received no money from the settlement. Instead, Zuckerberg gave his word that he would not countersue.
Approval of the plans
The city did not disclose when it intends to review the plans, but approval will not take place without public hearings. In spite of the speculation and lawsuits Zuckerberg has endured so far, his neighbors at least seem to support of his decision and believe he will get approval.
One neighbor who lives two blocks away from the CEO stated, “Mark’s a valued member of the community and he should really be allowed to do whatever he wants. So the fact that he owns all four of those homes, I think he has every right to do what he wants with them.”
David Milberg is a New York financial analyst.