One of Mountain View's oldest buildings may be destined for the literal dustbin of history.

The estimated $922,000 cost of moving, restoring and turning the 1880s-era Pearson House into low-income housing or police officer dorms is simply too steep, according to a report the city council will consider tonight.

The report's authors, Assistant Public Works Director Jacqueline Andrews Solomon and associate civil engineer Shilpa Mehta, are recommending that council members instead make "one final effort" to find another taker for the historic structure.

If no one emerges by March 1, the owner of 902 Villa St., the parcel on which the house built by Swedish immigrant Charles Pearson now sits, should be allowed to move forward with plans for a modern, four-story office building.

"If such an individual is not identified," Andrews Solomon and Mehta wrote, "disposition of the Pearson House would be at the discretion of the developer."

The fate of the Pearson House has been up in the air since July 2012, when the city council green-lighted developer Roger Burnell's plans. At the time, council members asked city staff to study whether the 1,100-square-foot structure could be moved and reused.

The city doesn't need new dorms for its out-of-town police officers, who sometimes find it more convenient to spend the night when they have a late shift and a court appearance the next morning, according to the report. There are two dorms -- one for men and one for women -- at the Municipal Operations Center, or MOC.

"The City has no current plans to replace either structure, as they get routine maintenance and upkeep and would be expected to last at least another 10 to 15 years," Andrews Solomon and Mehta wrote.

What's more, the city could purchase an equivalent four-bedroom modular unit for about $343,000, slightly more than a third of the cost of revamping the Pearson House, the report said.

Similarly, the city could get much more bang for its buck if it uses its affordable housing funds elsewhere.

By way of comparison, the city recently spent about $250,000 on each of the 51 units at the Franklin Street Family Apartments, which average about 1,024 square feet. With the Pearson House, the city would end up spending nearly four times as much for a similarly sized unit.

Adding in land costs, converting the structure into affordable housing would cost about $1.4 million, according to the report, which identifies a parcel on Wright Avenue as the most likely candidate.

Finally, both options would require the city council to pull funding from other projects to pursue, the report said

The Pearson House's future looks gloomy, but a companion building, the Immigrant House, will likely escape the wrecking ball -- for now. The report calls for the city council to set aside $32,000 to disassemble and temporarily store the 400-square-foot structure at the MOC.

Pending approval from council members, the structure would be kept in mothballs for up to three years. That would provide time for preservationists, who have been more vocal about saving the Immigrant House, to come up with half of the estimated $227,000 restoration cost, according to the report.

The Immigrant House is even older than the Pearson House and has been heralded by history buffs as an example of the domiciles that sheltered Santa Clara Valley's early labor force.

"This building is a significant representation of Mountain View's history and the immigrant laborers whose hard work built this city from the ground up," Mary Kay Marinovich told the city council in October. She has offered to help raise money for the building's relocation and restoration.

"If preserved, this house would serve as a contrast to the houses of the wealthy and show future generations how the working class lived. It represents the humble beginnings of the American dream for past generations."

Email Jason Green at jgreen@dailynewsgroup.com; follow him at twitter.com/ jgreendailynews.

IF YOU GO


WHAT: The Mountain View City Council will consider spending $32,000 to move and store the Immigrant House, as well as make one last attempt to find a taker for the Pearson House.
WHEN: 6:30 p.m. today
WHERE: Council Chambers, City Hall, 500 Castro St.