So much for first impressions.
Isabel Allen wasn't exactly bowled over when she first laid eyes on the one-bedroom condominium a Realtor took her to see. True, it was located in upscale Longport, one of South Jersey's most affluent communities, where multi-million dollar homes are the norm. But the decor was simply awful.
"Everything was 1950's blue," Isabel recalls. "Blue shag carpet, blue bedspreads, blue curtains."
Then she opened the blinds. And the first words out of her mouth were, "I'll take it."
Why the sudden change of heart?
"The view was phenomenal," she says.
That view, seen through a floor-to-ceiling wall of glass, featured a panorama of white sand beach and the Atlantic Ocean in all its glory. It was a view that could also be enjoyed from both a fiberglass deck and the master bedroom of the 4th floor one-bedroom condo at the Longport Seaview Condominiums.
Isabel and her husband, Jim, the CEO of Hard Rock International, are longtime South Jersey natives who now have homes in Linwood and Fort Lauderdale, FL. They bought the condo in Longport about six years ago as a summer getaway.
"We used it as a guest house for our kids and people who come in from out of town," Isabel says. "It's bright and airy and you can hear the sound of the ocean. I just love it."
The 134-unit Longport Seaview is located at 16th Avenue and the beach. In addition to the sweeping ocean views, residents have use of a beachfront outdoor pool, a caf�, operated during the summer months that overlooks the pool and ocean, and a game room. Monthly fees include heat, air conditioning and parking for one car.
Built in 1968, the building recently underwent $5 million in unplanned renovations that resulted from Superstorm Sandy last October.
"We had almost three feet of water in the lobby," says Sheila Stone, the building's general manager, "The floodwater ruined the whole first floor. It got into the electrical room and caused a fire and the transformer exploded. It burned all the wires. We had to replace the roof, the wiring, the carpets. And we had 2 ½ feet of sand in the parking lot which cost $15,000 and took eight days to remove."
The renovations and repairs, carried out by Sosh Architects and Weatherby Construction, took seven months to complete, but the building reopened on Memorial Day weekend. Stone says the work is about 90 percent complete.
"We did about $1 million in electrical repairs alone," says project manager Tony Donofrio. "We put on a new roof and we installed a waterproof tub to keep all our electrical equipment in. The water would have to rise 5½ feet above grade to get in. We're also making the building handicapped accessible".
The lobby now features a new Turkish limestone tile floor. The elevators and elevator lobbies were redone as was the pool area and caf�. There is new lighting in the hallway. A plaque mounted on a wall in the lobby commemorates the storm and features a line that marks the high water mark.
Jim and Isabel's 4th floor condo was undamaged by Sandy. But it has undergone a major makeover since they purchased it. Gone are the blue carpets, which were replaced with whitewashed hardwood floors. A wall in the galley kitchen was removed to open up the floor plan.
The kitchen now features granite counters and top-of-the-line stainless steel appliances including a Sub-Zero refrigerator, a combination washer/dryer, granite counters and custom cabinets. The bathroom was also updated.
For more information on this property, which is listed for $429,000, call Tina Ercole LoBiondo of Farley and Ferry Realty, 609-501-3211.
What: One bedroom condo
Taxes (2011): $2,445