What To Do With 118 S. Driver Street??
When I arrived at Preservation Durham 2-1/2 year ago, as Executive Director, I inherited many ongoing projects. Once of them was the house at 118 S. Driver Street, in East Durham. It was down on its heels and had been unoccupied for at least 4 years. It had structural problems and ridiculously low (7-foot!! ceilings). It was a hobbit house that we were offering at a low price for anyone interested in rehabbing it.
I walked many interested parties through the house in the first year. Many of these cute young couples were newly married and excited to find a house that they could buy for less than $20,000. In good conscience, I had to talk all of them out if it.
“Have you ever done a rehab project?” I’d ask. “No? Then this one isn’t for you. It’s a big project that will cost over $100,000 to do right. Most importantly, you’re a cute couple. Have you ever seen the The Money Pit? Perhaps you should watch it. I’d hate to see you divorced at the end of a project like this”.
And so the house sat. We had a few qualified rehabbers who were interested, but none of the negotiations were successful.
And then I met Nick and Victoria Broccolo of Renovision Properties; a married couple, originally from New York, with 2 daughters. Nick, a licensed general contractor and Victoria, a former ballet dancer, moved to the Triangle in 2005 with a dream of rehabbing and flipping vintage properties. The quality of their work earned them aneighborhood conservation award from us just last fall to recognize the 30 historic properties they have rehabbed and sold in Durham over the last 7 years.
I was comfortable selling the house to Nick and Victoria for a few reasons:
- They knew what they were getting into
- They had the skills to tackle it
- They have a great track record
- They fell in love with the history of the house.
And that last piece was important, because even though the house needed A LOTof work — and many thought it was beyond saving — it was rich with important stories and Durham connections.
Tomorrow I’ll follow up with more information on the 115 year history of the house, its original owners, and how it ended up in Preservation Durham’s hands.