One of my happy homeowners at The Avenue wrote this story about their 20 year search. This is such a great story I just had to share it with with all of you!
"My husband and I grew up in New York and New Jersey, and summer vacations for us meant a bungalow colony or cabin in the Catskills. But after we met at the University of Maryland and started dating we discovered Delmarva. As impetuous (and poor) college students, we would show up on the beach in Ocean City with no plans or reservations at the height of summer, and end up crashing in some dive hotel over a place like the Brass Balls Saloon. My standards were as low as my budget, and I thought it was heaven.
As the years marched on and children started arriving, we continued to “reach the beach” whenever we could.
When my now 21 year-old son was about six months old, we stayed in Dewey at the Sand Palace. He was harboring the first of many ear infections, and I rocked him to sleep while music blared into the night air from across the street at the Bottle and Cork. I have a photo from that trip that you have to peer into a plastic pyramid to view: our boy in his stroller on the boardwalk, smiling like a chubby-cheeked angel despite the earache and the fever, the Ocean City Ferris wheel looming in the background.
After my second child was born, we rented a house on Hickman Street in Rehoboth with friends from Gaithersburg. My younger son was just about 13 months at the time. When he wasn’t eating pretzels in a playpen set up under an umbrella in the sand, all he wanted to do was sit in the cardboard box in which we had brought games and toys.
We discovered the peace and comfort of Sea Colony, and soon began a family tradition of going there nearly every year. During those times we spent countless hours on the beach and in the pools, but our favorite activity was our jet skiing expeditions. When my sons were each in their turn able to get their own skis, I knew that the time for those golden summers and cherished family moments were growing ever shorter. It was as significant a rite of passage as losing baby teeth or moving up to a new school.
When the kids started to outgrow Bethany and its family atmosphere, we spent more and more time going to Rehoboth or the boardwalk in OC. The first time we stayed at a motel on Rehoboth Avenue my younger son was 15, and he had brought a friend along. Not yet old enough to drive, they were excited to be able to grab their boogie boards and go off on their own.They haunted the t-shirt shops; spent hours in the surf; vowed to try every flavor of Hawaiian Ice for sale on the boardwalk; and declared that having pizza for lunch at Nicola and pizza for dinner at Grotto counted as adequate dietary variety.
Through all of those years and visits, we always thought wistfully of owning a place of our own in Delaware. I can’t really explain why, but I feel like my heart is there. I would go and sit in the Indian River Inlet Marina, or even at the Rudder or somewhere along Tower Road on the bay, watching the sun set and trying to freeze the way it looked – and the way I felt – clearly and strongly enough to help get me through the long, cold, gray New Jersey winter.
As real estate prices dropped, we started looking more seriously for a place to buy. We watched the market, saw things that might work, reconsidered looking in other areas (like the other side of route 1 or down by the outlets), dropped the idea, and picked it up again – over and over. Last year I rented a garage apartment on Laurel Avenue for four weeks and concluded once and for all that my priority is to be in downtown. I want to walk to Dogfish Head (often), Dos Locos, or the beer garden at the Purple Parrot, and not worry about driving home. I want to be able to pop my Tommy Bahama chair on my back and hit the sand without crossing through all the incoming traffic or worrying about what to do with my car. I want to run on the boardwalk at dawn. I want to drop into any number of karaoke nights, happy hours, coffee house music performances, gallery shows and tag sales without it being a big production. I want to walk through the tree-lined neighborhoods, smell the pine needles, be both at the beach and in the woods at the same time. Whatever premium there is to be paid for being “in town”, it is worth it to me.
I was literally stopped in my tracks when I saw the Schell Brothers sign on Rehoboth Avenue during my visit last March to check out rentals for summer 2012. I called immediately and met with my new buddy, Adam Pettengell. I could not believe what he was telling me – literally. I kept wondering what I was missing. A Schell Home? In town? At this price point? What’s the catch?
I’ve always had a very good opinion of Schell; from what I can tell it is a great company. I’ve heard overwhelmingly positive testimony from other customers. I like the way they do business. I like their commitment to energy efficiency, their involvement in the community and their participation in the Extreme Makeover Home project. Its a company with which I had become very familiar and whose properties I have admired during my exploration of the local real estate market. But their homes were not being built where I wanted to buy – until now.
Just to be sure, we had our realtor take my husband and I to the other 19 properties on the market in the area we had targeted. Everything comparably priced to The Avenue’s homes were either small apartment-style condos, beat-up townhomes, or houses in need of a major overhaul (or a complete tear-down) just to be habitable.
The Avenue made a 30 year-old dream come true. Never again will I have to try to freeze the experience of the sunset, the breeze, the swish and whisper of the ocean – for locking away in my heart. My “happy place” is mine, whenever I want it. Whenever I want to, I can climb to the top of the old World War II lookout tower in Lewes, drive out to see the ponies at Assateague, pop a kayak in the salt marsh, or watch the evening sky blaze with peach, fuschia and lilac over the little replica lighthouse that stands watch at the entrance to town. I don’t have to ache to be there and and I don’t have to miss it.
I can just go there, unlock the door to our beautiful new house – and be home."
-Extremely Happy Avenue Homeowner
Read more on our Schell Blog!