A private investment group is in escrow to purchase The Shire, a hobbit-themed housing development in Bend that came to symbolize the real estate excesses of the early 2000s. Terms of the deal were not available. The original developer envisioned a community of Old English style homes. Its buildings resembled the world of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings,” complete with thatched roofs and stone accents. Construction began in 2006 but the market crashed before sales could take off. The Shire was to boast 15 luxury “cottages,” 16 townhomes and a common area including an amphitheater for community productions. After the market collapsed, the project failed. Private investors to buy The Shire (in Portland)