REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- Identity crisis: '60s relic hides '07 style
ADDRESS: 708 Park Street
NEIGHBORHOOD: Lyons Park
YEAR BUILT: 1965
SIZE: 2,930 fin. sq. ft.
LAND: 0.27 acres
CURB APPEAL: 8 out of 10
LISTED BY: Loring Woodriff 466-2992
In March of '06 we reviewed this split-foyer on Park Street, calling it– with its "two-tone yellow/white paint job"– something of a sore thumb among its more staid, traditional neighbors in that venerable downtown neighborhood. We also recommended as our parting words, "The house has its own charm, and we'd hope a new buyer would respect it.... It would be nice to think a new owner would be satisfied with [the few nods] to modernity and flash, and leave the rest pretty much as it is."
So much for our advice.
The buyer not only ignored every one of our well-intentioned suggestions, but in fact bought the place specifically to completely re-do it for resale. To that end, he has changed the house in significant ways, beginning with the yellow/white paint and moving right along.
It's the same house, obviously– no structural changes were made to the exterior. But anyone touring the place now would have some trouble understanding our comments of '06.
Let's face it: that the house was built in 1965 and represents a prime example of the taste and sensibilities of that far-away time is an inescapable fact that will deter many potential buyers (not to mention its completely inappropriate location). But that's unfortunate, because beginning at the entry foyer, the place has been made into a prime example of the taste and sensibilities of 2007.
For starters, the entire original part of the first floor has been reconfigured. (A very large master suite addition at the back is relatively new and wasn't changed– with the exception of some rearranging in what had been a pass-through laundry room and bath.)
Original wall-to-wall carpeting was removed to reveal a beautiful, shiny black soapstone entry. Up a few steps to the left, the wall separating a small dining area from the living room came down, creating a larger living space in which the wood-burning fireplace and built-in shelves have become the focal point instead of an incidental element.
Removing the wall also created a huge kitchen with new lighting, quartz counters, a big island, stainless appliances, and maple cabinets.
The back door from the kitchen leads to a new Trex deck (small, but probably nice for morning coffee), and the pass-through to the big master addition (former home of the washer/dryer) has become a very stylish half bath with quintessentially '07 elements– a glass bowl sink sitting atop a vanity cabinet and glass tiles on the floor.
We couldn't help but wonder in a house so clearly fixed in a time by such now-ridiculed elements as split foyers and pink and blue tile (in upstairs bathrooms), what buyers 40 years hence will think of unusual (if indisputably trendy) elements like quartz counters, "floating" sink bowls, and glass tiles. But those are aimless speculations, and the fact is, the updates are classy and certainly demanded by today's buyers– if the kitchens and bathrooms in almost every new house are any indication.
The master suite on this level has beautiful windows (still covered with the wooden "plantation" blinds we decried in our original review, but thanks to new paint and gleaming oak floors, somehow less oppressive), a new full bath, and laundry necessities tucked beside a large walk-in closet.
Up the oak staircase are three bedrooms, all of whose windows were replaced (with vinyl, alas, but at least they're much bigger than the originals). The two baths here have the aforementioned blue and pink tile, but as we noted before, their Art Deco-ish quality is endearing rather than off-putting.
No outside elements were changed (apart from the paint and new Trex deck out back) and are as serviceable as we noted last year: a very nice garden shed, interesting foundation plantings, and a massive oak tree that shades the house. Off street parking is also a plus.
The appeal of the location can't be denied: walking distance to the Mall, a quick hop to the bypass, easy nip over to Martha Jefferson, Burnley-Moran school district, etc. The solid brick construction blunts a surprising amount of noise from Park street commuter traffic, and nearby houses are far enough away that privacy is not an issue.
The only real issue is the fact that the house is neither fish nor fowl: a '60s relic sitting amid classier older houses in a market where everyone wants what's current and choice. It will make a wonderful in-town residence for people with enough imagination (and courage) to get beyond the front door. But does that describe any buyer in today's pool of lemmings?
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Photos by Rosalind Warfield-Brown