*This article available in February print issue of This Melrose Life Magazine
Jim Douthit is about to list his house for sale in Melrose after owning for nearly forty years. He expects to do very well as gentrification expands west. His two-bedroom, one-bath ranch style cottage was built in the 1940’s and sits on a street so green one couldn’t guess it was Phoenix. Douthit, 68, told T.M.L. about the day he discovered Melrose, while workers sawed and banged at his command.
It was the late 1970’s and his first marriage had just ended. He’d moved back from North Scottsdale – he grew up near 14th St. & Thomas – and was tired of apartment living. His friend took him to lunch at Livia’s Italian Restaurant (now Wineburger). “We were sitting right in the front window and I saw the pine tree (Near 9th Ave./Heatherbrae Dr.)” he described. “It was like a huge cloud that hung over this street and I said, ‘My God, I have to see this tree!” Not long after, Douthit’s friend lent him the cash to make a deal on one of the first houses he toured.
Douthit moved back to Scottsdale in the late eighties, but rented to a couple in Melrose for decades until one died. “Melrose is such an old-fashioned neighborhood,” he said. “Up where I live we’ve got some really nice neighbors, but you can’t walk down the street to a coffee shop or an antique store.” Still, he’s ready to hand over the keys. “I know it could be a nice income stream,” he said. “(But) I’m tired of being a landlord.”
Douthit is waiting to list until finished with improvements. “I have an emotional attachment,” he said. “I didn’t want to turn it over to some guy who was going to do a shoddy (flip) job.” Douthit put in new flooring and paint, and a window box in the home’s only bathroom. He installed some cabinets and kitchen piping himself, but other than that hasn’t changed much.
“Some people say: ‘I’d take this wall out here and take that wall out in between,” he explained. “But to me, that’s what gives it character.” The breakfast nook includes an originalwall pocket ironing board and a small pass-through to the dining room for a telephone.
There is a delivery slot for milk bottles in the kitchen and the living room looks out through corner panoramic windows. Guests can be greeted via a speakeasy in the front door. There is an attached two-car garage that’s been used as a workshop.
Kim Martinetti is an agent-investor who owns in different pockets of central Phoenix. She’s also getting ready to list in Melrose. “(This area) is different,” she said. “It’s shabby-chic, but moving more toward contemporary.”
Martinetti said she doesn’t think of Melrose as “historic,” but expects variety to boost property values. “There’s a lot of pro-and-con,” she said. “There’s still blight because (some) owners don’t live here, but when you go to a coffee shop I really think you’re going to like your neighbors.”
Martinetti said she’s excited for the opening of The Curve Luxury Apartments. “It will be a lot of hip people, young and who will make money.”
Douthit said he’s not worried his cottage lacks features in contemporary housing. “(Buyers) have to accept there’s (almost) no closet space,” he noted frankly. “And in old homes there’s always something that has to be (repaired).” He said he can afford to wait for a buyer who has “vintage” in mind. “You’ll live in a real neighborhood,” he almost echoed Martinetti. “People here know each other, and they’re friends.”
Mori is a licensed Realtor(R). For more information call 602-575-1170.