Living History: An amazing rehab of a century-old home in Seminole Heights
Mike Kappaz fell in love at first sight — even though, in his words, the object of his affections was “a complete wreck.”
The c. 1900 house at 5111 N. Central Avenue in Tampa’s Seminole Heights neighborhood had been vacant for years, with the possible exception of a few squatters. The roof leaked. Someone had even stolen the front door.
But Mike’s mind raced. He could see the possibilities. “As soon as I walked in, I just fell in love with the place.”
With his brother Ed, his partner in Bremalie Homes, a Tampa-based construction and renovation business, he made an offer on the foreclosed property. The purchase would include not only the 2,650-square-foot main house but a two-story carriage house, a garage, outbuildings and a pool on two individual lots on nearly an acre of land.
The asking price was $195,000. Mike offered $225,000, and it was his. “The bank didn’t know what they had,” he said. “Up until the day it closed I thought they’d say it only includes the one address.”
The Kappaz brothers would go on to spend more than two years and hundreds of thousands of dollars to restore the home to its former glory. “It was much more than we anticipated,” says Mike.
[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”61″ display=”basic_thumbnail” thumbnail_crop=”0″]They enhanced the home’s already great bones, meticulously restoring the original coffered ceilings and wood floors; polished up the stunning checkerboard-tiled porch; created a walk-in — or to put it more accurately, a climb-down-to — wine cellar and tasting room; and updated and expanded the kitchen, bedrooms and baths. And they transformed the carriage house, which had been in worse shape than the main house, into two gleaming new, Instagram-friendly, rental-ready apartments, complete with elevator (original to the house).
A few months ago, they listed the property for sale with Smith & Associates. Their asking price? $922,900, making it, according to a Smith press release, “the highest listed non-waterfront property for sale in Seminole Heights.” And a rarity among properties as old as this one: Its history is alive — in the memories of a woman who grew up there.
“My husband and I had our first kiss on the top step of that house,” says Patsy Daniel-White, “and we are still together after 63 years. It’s damned amazing.”
Patsy’s father, W.R. Daniel, was in the real estate business. She was born in a nearby house, but her mother loved 5111.
“She told my daddy she wanted it, and that the first time it was available he needed to buy it for her.”
Which he did, over seven decades ago.
“It was a marvelous place to live and grow up,” she recalls. “The entire back yard was loaded with every kind of fruit tree you could imagine.”
There were chickens, too, and goats, and a wash house with a wringer washer. The yard is so big that she learned how to drive there, but she didn’t need to drive to school; Hillsborough High is just a few blocks away.
The home’s “claim to fame,” she says, was the cellar. The original owner had been a doctor from up north who was accustomed to having one, but it was so rare in Florida that people would come over to the house just to see it.
Patsy left 5111 when she married at the age of 18, and when her parents sold the house in 1968, her husband wanted to buy it. But she told him no. “I spent my entire life here,” she remembers telling him. “I want to get out of here.”
But over the years, she kept tabs on her childhood home.
“I would occasionally drive by it, and it would break my heart,” she recalls. “It has such beautiful, beautiful features, and people could not afford to keep it up. And then these young men bought it.”
She met both brothers at open houses organized by Smith & Associates Realtor Sterling Remer.
“They were just very, very nice. It seemed to be a labor of love.”
Will this labor of love bear fruit — as in a buyer willing to pay a record price? Seminole Heights is in the midst of a long-awaited ascendance, with new restaurants and businesses opening up all the time, but the price tag is still daunting.
Mike Kappaz realizes that.
“If this were in South Tampa,” he says, “it would be a $3 or $4 million property.” But in Seminole Heights, he acknowledges that the $900,000+ price tag is “certainly stretching the market.”
He suggests the lots could be sold separately, but his heart doesn’t seem to be in it. “We want to keep the integrity of the property. I hope like heck someone will come along and want to purchase it.”
And it’s been an extra benefit to learn the home’s history, thanks to Patsy. “It’s tied up a lot of loose ends. She was pleased, and that was very pleasing to us.”
For Patsy’s part, she has her doubts that Seminole Heights can reach the heights it used to occupy, when it was one of Tampa’s toniest neighborhoods, where she walked to the movie theater on Nebraska and shopped at Ross Dime Store. But she’s delighted with the rescue of her childhood home, and she’s been having a blast reliving the happy times she had there.
“I have enjoyed this so much this summer,” she says, “going through all the history with everybody.”
For more info on the 5111 N. Central Ave. property, contact Sterling Remer, Realtor®, at 813-841-0325.