New life on Linden Avenue

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 22, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

Finally, there’s an answer to the $25,000 question: &uot;Who bought 105 Linden Ave.?&uot;

Fleet Smith of Suffolk and Dave Phillips of Virginia Beach, partners in S&P Development, provided that long-awaited answer Wednesday after closing on the boarded-up 19th-century house. The pair paid $25,000 for the dilapidated structure, which was put under contract within six hours after ReMax Across Town agent Barbara Kayes put the house on the market.


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The Historic Landmarks Commission stepped in to save the dilapidated house, part of the Mildred W. Sheffield estate, from being razed last month. Attorney Joshua Pretlow Jr. went before the HLC in March, seeking the city’s authorization to demolish the structure that city planners called a &uot;perfect&uot; example of Greek revival architecture.

Although a &uot;SOLD&uot; sign has been tagged on Kayes’ sign outside the house for a couple of weeks, residents of the surrounding West End community and the city’s restoration community have been kept in the dark Smith and Phillips’ identities. Neither Pretlow nor Kayes would comment until the deal was sealed.

Neighbors have long been concerned about the house, which they have publicly tagged an &uot;eyesore&uot; and &uot;public nuisance.&uot;

Those descriptions will soon be history, Smith said.

&uot;It’s one of the oldest homes in Suffolk…and we are going to bring it back to what is should look like,&uot; said Smith. &uot;We are going to make it so that neighbors are proud to have it on their street.&uot;

The company will have to wait until HLC approves its exterior facade plans, probably in June, before moving ahead with exterior restoration work, Smith said.

As soon as the city issues the necessary permits, crews will begin work on interior of the house, he said.

&uot;We are going to completely gut the house,&uot; Smith said. &uot;The inside is going to be rebuilt from top to bottom.&uot;

Another company Phillips owns, Phillips Construction, will handle the construction portion of the project, said Smith, a Riverview resident and Suffolk native. The company has restored several houses in Norfolk’s Ghent community.

Once the renovation is complete, S&P will probably sell the house, Smith said.

Mickey Boyette, whose South Broad Street property backs up to the Linden Avenue property, was glad to learn that Smith acquired the property.

&uot;I think it’s a good thing,&uot; said Boyette. &uot;I’m glad someone in the construction business – someone who knows how much work will be involved – bought the house.

&uot;I know it’s not going to be an overnight project but I’m glad to see it getting done.&uot;

Fellow West End Civic League member Kay Hurley agreed.

&uot;I think it’s great,&uot; she said. &uot;I think everybody in the neighborhood is looking forward to seeing it transformed from an eyesore into the structure it can become.&uot;