Love, hate, or feel completely apathetic about ‘em, the front-runners in the race for chief executive are an interesting bunch when it comes to matters of home improvement. To start, there’s everyone’s favorite, Michele Bachmann, who stockpiles energy-guzzling incandescent bulbs. Then there’s Ron Paul, who, if he’s anything like his son Rand, hates, hates, hates the dual-flush toilets installed in his home. And let us not forget Rick Perry, he of the $10,000/month rental mansion. And finally, we come to the chisel-featured Mormon millionaire and former Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney, a GOP contender whose penchant for downsizing apparently only applies to the federal government.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Romney plans to demolish a 3,009-square-foot Spanish-style home that he owns in the exclusive San Diego enclave of La Jolla and to erect an 11,062-square-foot mega-mansion in its place. Romney, whose primary residence is a townhouse outside of Boston, has owned the $12 million beachfront manse for three years but is looking to upsize because of his plus-sized clan. A Romney campaign official reports confirms that the Romney clan wants to “enlarge their two-bedroom home because with five married sons and 16 grandchildren, it is inadequate for their needs. Construction will not begin until the permits have been obtained and the campaign is finished.”

The current three-bedroom, 4.5-bathroom residence at 311 Dunemere Drive (check out a full photo gallery of the home here) was built in 1936 and was once owned by former San Diego Mayor Maureen O’ Conner and her husband, fast-food magnate Bob Peterson. The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that despite initial concerns about the home’s historic significance, it was ultimately found not to have any due to “lack of integrity” (the home has been remodeled multiple time before, most recently in 1986) and the teardown project will not be required to go to the Historic Resources Board. The California Coastal Commission and La Jolla Community Planning Group have recommended approval of the project, although no firm date has been for the city to approve the permits, giving Romney the full go-ahead.

Romney initially purchased the La Jolla home because he “wanted to be where I could hear the waves.” He told reporters at a book signing in California last year: “As a boy, we spent summers on Lake Huron and I could hear the crashing waves at night. It was one of my favorite things in the world. Being near the water and the waves was something I very badly wanted to experience again.”

Fair enough. Here’s hoping that the project isn’t a total bulldozer-to-landfill project and that various sustainable building practices are considered by Mittens, particularly deconstruction (paging Lorenz Schilling). 

Any San Diego/La Jolla residents out there have any feelings about the project? Do you think the city will give Romney the green light?

Via [San Diego Union-Tribune], [Washington Post]

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Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Romney: Dedicated downsizer to dramatically upsize San Diego home
GOP presidential front-runner Mitt Romney plans to demolish his modestly sized beachfront residence in the Southern California community of La Jolla and replace