A couple who had searched for a property for 24 years so they could turn it into their own bed and breakfast finally bought the James Lee House in Memphis, Tennessee — for $1.
The home was built in 1848, but has been abandoned for over 60 years after the previous owner deeded the property to the city when she passed away and the association that negotiated a 50-year lease thereafter did nothing with the site, the Daily Mail reported.
It is also the birthplace of the Memphis College of Arts and is listed on the National Historic Register.
In 2011, the lease expired, and the city sent out a national Request for Proposals, calling for those who wanted to restore the grand home in a way that would benefit the community at large to come forward.
Jose Velázquez, a local developer and former executive director of Latino Memphis, told The Huffington Post that he submitted a report on plans to invest $2.1 million into restoring the 165-year-old mansion and operate a bed and breakfast with his wife, Jennifer, in just one year.
The plan was approved by the council, but it was not that easy.
“In order to complete the property transfer, we had to secure all financing, have signed contracts with architects/contractors, provide appropriate construction bonds, and [essentially] ensure that the property would actually be restored and reused in a timely manner,” Velázquez told the Huff Post.
“We had 12 months to complete all construction work and be open for business.
“This was all a very ambitious timetable, considering that the property had been abandoned for over 60 years, but we were determined to do it and do it right.”
The City Council unanimously approved the transfer of the James Lee House to Jose Velazquez on August 21, 2012, for the sum of $1.
He and his wife posted before and after photos of the renovation on the James Lee House Facebook page.
Photo Source: Daily Mail