It can be hard to find a good deal on a home in the New York metropolitan area. In fact, according to Zillow, the median price of homes currently listed in New Jersey is $342,000.
So when a 4,000-square-foot Victorian mansion in Montclair, New Jersey, hit the market in 2017 for just $10, you’d expect buyers to show up at open houses in droves.
Incredibly, it never sold.
Just over a year after the home, known as the Aubrey Lewis House, was listed at the steeply discounted price, it was demolished, according to NJ.com.
Now a cluster of new-construction homes stands in its place. The six-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath, 110-year-old architectural beauty — designed by the famous local architect Dudley S. Van Antwerp, according to its old Realtor.com listing — that once sat on 2.7 acres at 44 Pleasant Ave., has been replaced by eight single-family homes dubbed The Collection.
Why did no one jump at the incredible deal? There was one major catch: Whoever bought the home would have to relocate it within a quarter-mile — and foot a pricey bill for the heavy lift. This tricky stipulation occurred after the Montclair Township Planning Board approved a subdivision of the land with Collection builders BNE. The Montclair Township Historic Preservation Commission fought the proposed demolition at the time, but the board would only agree to “moving, rather than demolishing, the residence,” according to official town records.
The $10 listing price first showed up in July 2017, with prospective buyers given until the end of August to ink a deal. The developers even offered to pony up $10,000 toward a buyer’s moving expenses — though that’s only a fraction of what it would cost to relocate the house. A buyer would have had to shell out up to $200,000 for the move, according to reports, as well as purchase a plot of land nearby. Still, the six-digit estimate is way less than the $1.35 million asking price for the historic home when it was previously listed for sale.
Unfortunately, no one who “was viable to buy and move” stepped forward, Laurena White, the Lewis family’s real estate agent, told NJ.com.
Not only did the neighborhood lose a beautiful home, it lost a piece of history. The house belonged to Aubrey Lewis, one of Montclair’s most successful residents. An All-American athlete, he was one of the first African Americans to work for the FBI and became a top executive at a Fortune 100 company. He and his wife, Ann, raised their five children in the home until his death in 2001. It was this impressive past that prompted the preservation commission to fight for protected historical status.
The battle ultimately was lost, and now “exquisite” homes starting at $800,000 have supplanted the Aubrey Lewis House.