A historic Bonita home that was built for the son of President Ulysses S. Grant will be restored and sold as part of a single-family housing development.
The house will become part of the Carriage Hill community under construction by Davidson Communities and The Phair Co.
“The houses we’re building are kind of showcased around the Grant House,” said Bill Davidson, president of Davidson Communities.
“I’m actually pretty pleased that we have the opportunity to build some homes around it and preserve it and kind of make it the center of attention,” Davidson said. “I’m going to restore the outside to be as (like) original as I can, trying to get the colors right.”
Built in 1894 for Ulysses S. Grant Jr. and his family at 5771 Sweetwater Road, the Dutch Colonial Revival style home is one of the few remaining 19th century structures in the Sweetwater Valley area, according to the South Bay Historical Society.
The house is located on a knoll overlooking the Sweetwater Lake and dam. It was designed by San Diego architect Will Sterling Hebbard and cost $1,800 to build, according to the historical society.
“It must have been beautiful, sitting out there by itself,” Davidson said.
Although Davidson said the renovation will restore the exterior to its original appearance, he said the interior will be renovated with new plumbing and other touches “to make it a little more modern.”
“I have to bring the kitchen back around to today’s world and redo the bathrooms,” Davidson said. “We at one time thought it could be a community center, but the project’s just not big enough to support it.”
Homeowner fees would be prohibitively high to support a community center.
In addition to the Grant Home, Carriage Hill will be a gated community of 18 homes, 11 of which will be single-story.
The project was approved by Sweetwater Community Planning Group, although co-chairman Steve Stonehouse said the advisory group didn’t take a position the Grant home restoration.
“The development in general was pleasing and met all of our requirements,” Stonehouse said. He said he is concerned about traffic it could generate.
“Traffic is a major concern here in Bonita because we’re kind of a short-cut between Chula Vista and San Diego,” Stonehouse said.
The Carriage Hill development is a bit of a rarity, partly because Bonita is pretty much built out so there’s been little new development, and partly because most of the homes in the development will be single-story.
Single-story homes are a rarity in San Diego County. Because land is so expensive, builders go up so they can get a bigger house on the same size lot, Davidson said.
Designed by BP Associates of San Diego in Spanish and Tuscan styling, the Carriage Hill homes will range from 2,524 square feet to 3,197 square feet with up to five bedrooms, up to 5 ½ bathrooms and a two-car or three-car garage.
They’ll also have built-in granny flats with a separate, private entrance for parents, grandparents or adult children.
“Everything we do now, we try to incorporate multigenerational opportunities,” Davidson said. “We think that’s really important in today’s world. We’ve got to think of a way to take care of people who need housing.”
Prices will start at about $1 million, Davidson said, adding that he hasn’t set a price for the renovated Grant home.
“I really don’t have any idea what it may be worth,” Davidson said. He said he’ll put the home on the market and see what offers come in.
“It will take about a year to get it the way I’d like it and see what the market will take,” Davidson said.
He said his company specializes in projects with an historical element.
Other projects include renovation of the Canfield-Wright House in Delmar, built in 1910 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.
“We brought that one back to its glory,” Davidson said.