By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
Tucked behind the sprawling Spinnaker condominium complex is an old three-story white house desperately in need of a new coat of paint.
Despite its deteriorated appearance now, the former Dreslyn Cottage rooming house is an iconic piece of Sea Isle City’s history dating to 1889, the year that Benjamin Harrison succeeded Grover Cleveland as president of the United States.
After being owned by the same family for the past 60 years, the house at 20 37th Street is on the market for $2.75 million, a price that reflects Sea Isle’s red hot real estate market for residential and commercial properties.
“It’s a good time to sell,” said Moira Kelly Smith, a RE/MAX Preferred real estate agent that is handling the sale.
The old house was built just seven years after Sea Isle’s formal founding in 1882 by visionary real estate developer Charles K. Landis. It has been owned for the past 60 years by the Emanuele family. Smith said the family believes it is simply the right time to sell it now.
Before the Emanuele family used it as their seashore vacation retreat, the home was well known as the Dreslyn Cottage rooming house, Smith said.
“There’s a lot of history connected to this house,” she noted in an interview Wednesday.
The home survived countless storms and hurricanes for more than a century. After the monstrous 1962 storm that devastated much of the Jersey Shore, the house, still standing tall, was used to store equipment for the Sea Isle City Beach Patrol, Smith said.
What exactly may become of the old house when it is sold is anyone’s guess at this time. A sales pitch for the property put together by RE/MAX Preferred says there are “endless opportunities.”
“Attention Investors! Presenting a unique and rare development opportunity,” according to the sales pitch.
Although it is located on the beach block of 37th Street at Pleasure Avenue, the home’s ocean view is blocked by the Spinnaker condos, a 192-unit complex consisting of two towers built in the 1970s.
The house is located in an area zoned for mixed-use projects that combine commercial space on the ground level with residential construction on the top floors.
RE/MAX Preferred is touting the possibility of a developer transforming the house into a restaurant, a coffee shop, a gallery or another type of commercial space.
Or, it could be demolished to make room for entirely new development.
One of the intriguing possibilities being floated by RE/MAX Preferred is for a buyer to save the house by moving it to another location.
“I think that the family has so many great memories. That would be a wonderful thing,” Smith said of the Emanuele family’s hope that the house could be saved.
The house has been on the market for only a short time, but is already attracting a lot of attention in a town where there is heavy demand for commercial and residential properties.
“There’s a lot of interest,” Smith said. “Obviously, something needs to go there.”