Renovation of classic Ventnor beach home far eclipses its former splendor |

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Plenty of thought and consideration went into the purchase of the 5-bedroom, 4½ -bathroom home at 27 South Little Rock Ave. in Ventnor when George Zahr was searching for a seashore retreat for his family.

Foremost among the criteria was making sure the home was tailored to his precise specifications, even if that meant shelling out considerably more cash to be sure his family had the finest and safest accommodations.

Equally important was the home’s location as it applied to both safe harbor from the sometimes-harsh seashore elements, and also ease of access to numerous dining options and other amenities.

“I had been looking for houses on the beach for a while and this looked like the right deal for me,” says Zahr, a retired DuPont research scientist. “I preferred that the home not be on the beach block, but on the next block in, mainly because of two things.

“First, the danger of flooding, based on historical data, is much lower when you are a block in from the beach. Second, it’s less crowded because people tend to crowd around the beach blocks. I prefer the privacy, and for the short walk, it’s worth it.”

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Zahr purchased what had originally been constructed as a triplex in the early 1930s. His intention was to convert the three-dwelling structure into one large, single-family home, which he did by raising up the building, demolishing and replacing the existing foundation with one that was more in keeping with modern-day zoning regulations, and refurbishing the existing structure with first-rate building materials at every juncture of the project.

“We decided we were going to bring the house back to its original glory,” he said. “If I had demolished this house and built a new one, I could not build as big or as classic a house as this one because of the building codes.”

Essentially, only the home’s frame remained, and Zahr oversaw a renovation project that included a completely new electrical system, a new two-unit heating and cooling system (one unit servicing the home’s first floor, a larger one servicing the second two floors), and a totally new plumbing system.

“(The plumbing) even including digging into the streets to remove any potential lead piping that might be going into the house,” he says. “That was not a requirement, but something we chose to do as an added precaution.

“Everything is new,” he adds. “There are fewer square lines and closed spaces than what was there originally. New homes typically have 8-foot ceilings. Our house has 9-foot ceilings throughout, which was a benefit of keeping the old frame. We kept the home’s character but opened it up a lot more.”

Many of the home’s new amenities were designed primarily with aesthetic appeal in mind, such as full-marble furnishings in all five bathrooms, red-oak hardwood floors throughout the home, and hardwood kitchen cabinetry in which cabinet doors open into shelves when pulled out. New decking on the upper levels of the home’s street side offer views of the ocean, and there is an attached, two-car garage on the home with additional off-street parking for two more cars.

Most amenities were designed not just for visual appeal, but with safety, convenience and durability in mind, such as Marvin fiberglass windows and exterior doors that are resilient to fading, peeling and cracking, and are eight times stronger than vinyl (see Marvin.com). The home’s exterior siding is made of Hardie fiber cement (see JamesHardie.com), which is low maintenance, non-combustible (it will not ignite when exposed to a direct flame, nor contribute fuel to a fire), and is created to withstand damage from moisture, rot or insects.

“We made three units into one, and have completely finished two-and-a-half floors,” says Zahr. “The top floor can be converted into another bedroom and a bath, or a dormer and a bath, as all the utilities are accessible and ready to be hooked up.”

The top level of the home remains unfinished in part because two of the grown children of George and his wife, Anan, recently made career moves that took them out of the area.

“I was building this for my family, but recently two of our kids found excellent jobs far from here,” says George. “We’re thrilled for their success, as they are exceptional career-oriented positions, but now my wife and I have this big house to ourselves, and we’re not sure we want to keep it anymore.

“We both love everything about the home,” he adds. “This puts us in a bit of a difficult situation, but things change and given the circumstances, we think that selling it might be for the best.”

For more information or to schedule a tour of this spectacular Ventnor home, qualified buyers can call the direct line of listing agent Todd Gordon at 609-553-5098, or at the office of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach at 609-487-7234. Or you can email Todd at [email protected]

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