McLean Place 

A renaissance on McLean Boulevard.

A cluster of two-story stucco apartments perched on a terrace above McLean Boulevard is in the midst of a transformation into a planned development of six elegant townhouses. The property was once part of the Roynan Farm in the late 19th century. Sometime in the early 20th century, the owner remodeled an existing house on the farm, modernizing it in the Craftsman style. According to local lore, the owner visited either the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco or the Panama-California Exposition in San Diego, both held in 1915. Greatly influenced by the many examples of Spanish Colonial architecture featured at the expos, he remodeled the house again, this time dividing it into a duplex and building two new apartment blocks in front of it, each with stucco exteriors, tile roofs, arched windows and doors, and wrought-iron details -- all emblematic elements of the Spanish Colonial Revival or Mission style.

The work now underway retains the historic aura of the buildings while adding contemporary amenities to each unit, such as a renovated kitchen and a new half-bath on the first floor, tucked under the stairway in most cases. Because the six townhouses will be finished to suit their new owners, they can have unique floor plans as well as distinctive interior finishes and fixtures.

Each of the four units in the two front buildings has a large, bright living room with a corner fireplace, a dining room, and a separate breakfast room adjoining the kitchen, which has both its original built-in china cupboard as well as new cabinetry and countertops. Upstairs, three bedrooms offer the possibility of a variety of uses as sleeping quarters, den, or home office. The front bedroom extends across the full width of the unit and could serve as both bedroom and sitting room. Its French doors open to an iron railing which gives the impression of being a balcony. The upstairs bath has its original tub and medicine cabinet; retro-styled fixtures and black-and-white ceramic floor tiles complement the 1920s look. The former linen closet just outside the bath has been converted to a laundry area. The two townhouses in the rear building have differing floor plans, but each has a living room, dining room, and kitchen on the ground floor and two bedrooms and a sun porch on the second floor.

A secluded central courtyard is enclosed by stucco walls on two sides and an iron fence across the front. A vintage birdbath and a new pond with a burbling fountain add visual and auditory accents to the space. A gated driveway encircles the buildings, and parking sheds for each resident open off the drive. Additional resident and guest parking is also provided inside the gated area. Each unit has a secure storage area in the basement of the two front buildings and in rear sheds for the back units.

Swoopy canvas awnings suspended from angle-iron spears cover all the front entrances and the French doors on the second floors. Similar awnings were original to the buildings but have long since disappeared. The sockets for the poles were still in place, and after the current owner found various parts of the awning supports in the basement, he decided to restore them. The awnings also serve as jaunty flags signaling that these former apartments, once anomalies among the large single-family houses, are now six distinctive homes in the heart of Central Gardens.

McLean Place

2 units: 1,400 square feet, 2 bedrooms, 1 1/2 baths
4 units: 1,600 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 1 1/2 baths
$180,000 to $230,000 (depending upon allowances) Tom Edwards, 888-6683

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