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Part of La Jolla’s heritage available for sale, partnership

A historic La Jolla property, The Heritage Place, is for sale.

The price tag: $5 million with partnership options.

The green-fenced, block-square Heritage Place site is on one-third of an acre at 7210-12 La Jolla Blvd. It has been lovingly restored in the past few years by its present owners, Terry Jo Bichell and her husband David, who currently reside in Tennessee.

There are four historic structures on the corner property. One, the Corey House, designated as historic Site No. 375, was the residence of one of San Diego’s first female doctors, Dr. Martha Corey. In danger of being demolished, it was moved in 2003 from Draper Avenue to Heritage Place to preserve it.

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Another structure on the site is the striped, Craftsman-style, 1885-vintage Galusha B. Grow Yellow Cottage bungalow. It is an example of the vernacular Victorian style popular in early La Jolla at the turn of the century. Very few such homes remain. Grow was prominent in San Diego banking circles and was a fire commissioner. The home was later owned by Frank Woodworth, who was a conductor on the La Jolla Railway, La Jolla’s economic and social link to the outside world at the time.

A third structure on the property is the Horace E. Rhoads duplex with its now-connected studio apartment above the two-car garage, which replaced a stable. The duplex was built in 1917 by Horace Rhoads, a newspaperman of note who was general manager for the West Coast “Penny papers.” He also was one of the founders of The San Diego Athletic Club in 1924.

Heritage Place was the brainchild of Pat Schaelchlin, a historian and a member of La Jolla Historical Society. She was the author of “La Jolla Story, the Story of a Community 1887-1987.” She and her husband, Bob, wanted to create a historical enclave that could be economically self-sustaining and be a place where historic cottages could be preserved.

Schaelchlin’s idea to relocate and cluster cottages was not original. It was used in the first boom days when La Jolla’s economy was based on tourism. The first little cottages were moved when more substantial houses were built. The Heritage Place site embodies the concept of clustering historic properties in cultural zones, as has been done in a more high profile way in Heritage Park in Old Town, in order to preserve and showcase them.

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Bichell said she and her husband are reluctant to relinquish the historic property, but being absentee landlords is difficult. Nonetheless, she feels there is a legacy that goes along with the property that needs to be passed along. “We’re hoping we can find people who would be interested in buying,” she said. “Ideally, we want to find business partners. We’d like to retain a large interest in it. We love it, but we may not ever move back there, at least not for a long time.”

The Bichells have been leasing the Yellow House on the property as a vacation rental. The Corey House, since its completion last year, has also become a vacation rental.

Bob Andrews of Willis Allen Real Estate is the listing agent for the property. He noted the historic property is being “carefully positioned” so as to keep options open for future owners/partners. “We want to open up our possibilities,” said Andrews. “If somebody came along with the right price, we’d probably let them buy it. But somebody doesn’t really need to buy the whole thing, pay the whole price. If someone was interested in coming in and buying a share of the property and partnering with them, they could occupy it part-time, and it could be a vacation rental the balance of the time. The possibilities are really endless.”

Andrews noted, as a historically designated property, that Heritage Place is subject to Mills Act tax relief benefits.

He added the Heritage Place property can be viewed by appointment on Saturdays between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

The Bichells and their five children lived in the Rhoads duplex for seven years before moving out of the area. Terry Jo said her family will always feel tied to the property, whether they live there, or not, or own it, or not. “We’ve really tried to live up to their (Schaelchlins’) dream,” she said. “She did so much for La Jolla. I was glad that we made them happy.”

Terry Jo Bichell said she’s been in touch with Dr. Martha Corey’s descendants, including her great-granddaughter. “She’s planning a reception for all of them (Coreys),” said Terry Jo Bichell. “Her great-granddaughter will bring a bunch of her memorabilia and photos.”

For more information about The Heritage Place, call Bob Andrews at (619) 517-4404 or e-mail randrews@willisallen.com. Those interested in a vacation rental for the Galusha B. Grow cottage can visit www.yellowcottage.com.

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