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You Can Find That Connection to the ‘Soil’ … or Sand in Carlsbad

A sense of place. If you have never felt it, you won’t understand. It’s that sense of roots, of history, of landscape and connection, yet it is impossible to describe. That’s what I felt when I first arrived in Carlsbad. I am a fifth-generation Nebraskan, raised in a small town on the Missouri River. Carlsbad is a town founded in the late 1880s by two Nebraska businessmen, Schutte and Smith from Columbus, Nebraska. It felt like home.

Like my hometown, the streets were laid out in an organized grid — like farmland and most towns in the Midwest.

I arrived in Carlsbad when the Twin Inns, formerly Schutte’s home, was on Elm Avenue and Highway 101. Now it’s on renamed Carlsbad Village Drive and Carlsbad Boulevard, and the landmark Twin Inns is now undergoing its third incarnation of owners.

The Twin Inns has special meaning to me because we were told the house we bought on Sunnyhill Drive was built in 1955 as a wedding present for the daughter of Eddie Kentner, who founded the Twin Inns restaurant in 1919. Kentner and the Twin Inns were world-renowned for the fried chicken dinners that brought people from all over, especially during prohibition. You knew you were there when you saw the four gargantuan chicken statues out front.

Now, the nearly 40-square-mile city of Carlsbad is just shy of 110,000 people and stretches from Highway 78 south to La Costa Avenue. The eastern borders are San Marcos and Vista. Carlsbad got its name because in 1880 John Frazier, a former sailor, dug a well and tapped into an artesian spring. Chemical analysis revealed the water was nearly identical to water from the spa at Karlsbad, Bohemia — currently the Czech Republic. The building housing the well, including the spring water, is still there and called the Carlsbad Mineral Water Spa.

Katie Alfrey, a Realtor with Windermere Real Estate SoCal, has been selling real estate in North County for more than 20 years. She is also a resident of Carlsbad and has seen the real estate market there go through multiple boom-and-bust cycles.

Alfrey, who also is one of a handful of certified GREEN agents by the National Association of Realtors, said there are a number of homes for people in the market for high-end homes in Carlsbad — divided among the 92008, 92009 and 92011 ZIP codes.

One recently sold for $6.5 million, which was the low end of the listing price range. The house, at 5099 Shore Drive, was listed by Jamie Hopkins of Team Metro. The property closed escrow on June 20.

Portia Metras — a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Encinitas who has been selling real estate in Carlsbad for 30 years — has an active listing on the beach for $6.5 million. The main reason her buyers want to live in Carlsbad is the lifestyle, she said.

“Being a coastal community, there are great beaches, restaurants and shops,” she said. “It’s still close enough for people to commute to San Diego, and access to Orange and LA counties is easy too.”

The home is at 5001 Tierra Del Oro in the Terramar area of Carlsbad. It is 4,800 square feet and has five bedrooms and six baths on a 15,246-square-foot lot — right on the bluff above the beach.

Metras, who is in the top 2 percent of agents nationwide for Coldwell Banker, said Carlsbad is a well-run city with a variety of prices to please every buyer.

“It has a nice small-town feel as well,” she said. “Oh yeah, and the weather is perfection!”

Only one other home has sold for more than $2 million in the past six months — a 5,490-square-foot house in Bressi Ranch on Allston Street. The selling price was $2 million, 10 percent less than the listing price.

Nonetheless, this home is in a neighborhood that was a microcosm of what happened in areas that were being built right before and during the housing crash. It sold in March 2010 for $4.6 million, and then sold just six months later in October 2010 for $1.5, presumably to a bank or an investor.

The city has come a long way from the nadir of the crash.

Ted Owen, president and CEO of the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce, summed up how Carlsbad has evolved into the diverse, progressive city it is today.

“It used to be that tourists would stay in San Diego and take a day trip to Carlsbad for LEGOLAND, and now they stay in Carlsbad and take day trips to other attractions.”

Please send luxury real estate items to Stephanie Glidden at sglidden@sdbj.com.

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