Chris Mueller's house is nice enough - a charming 1950s era bungalow on a quiet street in Somers Point.
But her decision to buy it 10 years ago was less about curb appeal and amenities and more about location. It's right smack in the middle of the city's historic bayfront district.
The one-story house is two doors down from Bay Avenue, which parallels the Great Egg Harbor Bay. It's right around the corner from the Great Bay Art Gallery and a couple of blocks from two Somers Point landmarks - the Anchorage Tavern and Smitty's Clam Bar. Nearly a dozen bars and restaurants, including Philippe Chin's Bistro, Doc's Place, Sandi Pointe, Charlie's and Gregory's are within walking distance. So is Shore Medical Center, Harbor Cove Marina and the 102-year-old Gateway Playhouse, which is scheduled to reopen next year after an 8-year hiatus.
Chris was working as a flight attendant for United Airlines and living in Chester Springs, Pa. when she bought the house on Miller Lane in 2002.
"My children were grown and it was a dream of mine to live near the water," she recalls. "I found the bay area so charming - the restaurants, the boats going in and out. We have a little beach and in the summer there's Bayfest and concerts. It's a quiet year-round community."
Chris also liked the house which occupies a 32-by-50-foot lot and features a vinyl and cedar shake exterior. Inside is a formal living room, kitchen and dining area, a sunroom, one bathroom and two bedrooms.
"It's a cozy home, just the right size for me," she says. "It doesn't have a lot of land so it was easy for me to maintain as a single person."
Since the house had been renovated before she bought it, Chris didn't have to make many improvements.
"When I moved in it had all new tilt-in windows, new doors, new ceramic tile floors in the kitchen and refinished maple cabinets," she says. "I put in the Pergo floors in the living room and the guest bedrooms and the cement patio in the back yard. I also put in a new furnace and water heater."
From the street a small covered front porch opens to the sunroom, which has wainscoting and a ceramic tile floor. The living room and one bedroom have 10-foot ceilings and the other bedroom has a walk-in closet. The kitchen has a gas stove, a tile floor and lots of cabinets. The bathroom has a walk-in shower. There's also a utility/laundry room with a door to a small rear deck and courtyard. There are two storage sheds on the property and off-street parking for one car.
Chris, who retired in 2005 after 38 years with United Airlines, lived in the house until 2010, when she moved to Rehoboth Beach. For the past three years she's been renting it to her close friend, Laurie Smith, who calls it "Starfish Cottage" after the decorative starfish that adorn most of the windows.
"It would make a great vacation home," says Laurie, a Realtor with Bay Harbor Realty in Somers Point. "I like the walkability to great restaurants, bicycling on Bay Avenue, the boating. It's also centrally located - I'm just three minutes from my office."
Laurie likes to take long walks with Lilly, her 5-pound Havashire, known to the locals as the "Queen of Bay Avenue." On warm evenings she enjoys relaxing in the secluded courtyard. "It's a great place to come out and grill, have a little glass of wine or some pink lemonade," she says.
And despite its proximity to the bay, the house came through Hurricane Sandy virtually unscathed.
"We're high and dry," Laurie says.
For more information on this property, which is listed for $169,000, call Laurie Smith of Bay Harbor Realty, 609-317-0337.
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