When Len Roberts set out to build an opulent home near Texas Christian University, his intention wasn’t to show off.
It was for throwing extravagant parties. And the former RadioShack CEO hosted many memorable galas and parties for Fort Worth’s top business, civic, and community service leaders.
“I wanted to be able to host dinner parties for 250 people,” Roberts said. “It was built to entertain and give back to the community.”
Now Roberts and his wife, Laurie, have moved beyond elaborate entertainment and are ready to downsize to a home in Mira Vista. Roberts, 74 and retired, plans to play a lot of golf.
The couple is auctioning off their 16,000-square-foot home at 4400 Overton Crest St. with Interluxe, an online auction company that specializes in luxury homes. The initial offer for the April 24 sale is $2.5 million.
Prospective buyers will be able to preview the property from 11am to 3pm on 21st and 22nd April and 1pm to 4pm on 23rd April. More information is available on the Interluxe website.
The home was previously listed with Williams Trew, a division of Ebby Halliday Real Estate Inc., for $8.9 million. Roberts said the house had been on the market for about three years, but he and his wife were in no rush to sell since they hadn’t found their next home.
Now that they’ve found a new home, which they’re renovating, they’re eager to speed up the sale through an auction.
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“Whoever buys it is going to have a great place to live and they’re getting it for a bargain,” Roberts said.
The sprawling home, which has about 12,000 square feet of living space and another 4,000 square feet of unfinished storage space, took about five years to build. Construction on the five-bedroom, 10-bath home began in 1999 and was completed in 2004.
Among the most notable features of the traditional French-style home in the Tanglewood neighborhood is the 1.82-acre lot that offers hillside views of TCU’s Amon G. Carter Stadium and downtown Fort Worth. The home has two garages that can fit five cars, and also has a 12-seat movie theater designed to resemble Chicago’s opulent Marbro Theater, a favorite spot for Chicago natives to see a movie.
The couple invested $12 million in the construction and the home currently has an insurance replacement value of $21 million, Roberts said.
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The property features 12-foot wrought iron gates and 11-foot custom iron doors that lead into an exquisitely designed home adorned with crystal chandeliers, a grand spiral staircase, and Versailles pattern floors. The attention to detail extends to the electronic operating systems, which include the sound systems that were essential for entertaining crowds, Roberts said.
The entire estate is surrounded by a 10-foot wrought iron fence which required City Council approval due to its height. Extensive landscaping and terraced limestone stairs connecting to the pool and pool house adorn the expansive backyard.
“It was built to be a trophy home and made available to the community,” Roberts said.
Roberts said he left his wife to make most of the design and construction decisions alongside architect Don Wheaton, builder Rick Williams and designers at Sandra Sampson Interiors. But Roberts said he insisted the house be built of limestone despite the high cost and onerous process of installing the hand-hewn limestone.
Growing up in a family of “modest means,” Roberts said, out-of-town travel wasn’t in the budget. Instead, his family would visit Chicago’s magnificent limestone-built museums, including the Museum of Science and Industry, the Field Museum, and the Art Institute of Chicago. “That was my only request,” he said.
Roberts and his family moved to Fort Worth in 1993 when he was hired as president of RadioShack. In 1999 he was promoted to managing director.
Prior to RadioShack, Roberts was CEO of Shoney’s and president and CEO of Arby’s.
He has also served on the boards of directors of other companies, including JCPenny, Rent-A-Center, TXU and Texas Health Resources.
Active in community service, he served as national president of the United Way and served on the boards of directors of organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and Students in Free Enterprise.
Roberts said he understands he won’t see a return on investment from the house and that “someone is going to make millions on it, but it won’t be us.”
But that’s fine with him.
“We’ve finally found a home that we love and are ready to auction it off and move forward,” she said.