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Moving on up to the high side
By TAMARA EL-KHOURY
Published June 14, 2007
The odd-shaped, 2, 900-square-foot structure hovers over the businesses below. From the street, the almost 50-foot-tall house seemingly looks as if it sits on top of an ice cream store, cookie store, insurance office, hair salon and massage place.
The angular, stilted house rising on Virginia Avenue on the east end of downtown is a month away from completion.
It's the housewarming party everyone's been waiting for, particularly the Palm Harbor family of five who will soon live there.
The home is the dream of Michel, 45, and Robin Rey, 47, hair stylists who will soon work and live on the same odd-shaped lot bounded by Highland and Virginia avenues and Main Street. The pair own the roughly acre site and run one of its businesses, Paris Hair Design.
The vision started as a sketch on a napkin. More than three years later, it's almost ready for Mike, Robin and their two sons and a daughter to move in. They won't say how much the home - painted a yellow color called "Golden Fleece" - cost to build.
"We love the town and we've always wanted to live where we work, " said Mike Rey. His parents, French immigrants, owned a hair salon attached to their home in Pennsylvania, where he grew up.
"The first thoughts were 'almost impossible, ' " said architect Roberto A. Sanchez when the Reys first approached him about the project.
The complicated angles, the need for parking spaces for the adjacent businesses they will have 11 spots and a retention pond all made the project challenging, Sanchez said.
Plus the land is zoned residential, commercial and open parking, Sanchez said, leaving the Fire Marshal scratching his head. The house does have a sprinkler system.
The house needed to be high enough to clear cars that would park below. It also needed to be lifted so the Reys weren't staring out of their windows into a wall. Instead, they have an over-the-treetops view of Dunedin.
Hours of discussion went into how to make the house fit in a small, quaint, town without making it overwhelming or ugly, Mike Rey said. They have their builder, Mike Mitchell, on speed dial and rave about his artistic ability.
To get up, visitors take an elevator from the ground floor. There's also a staircase. The three bedrooms are on the first floor.
The second floor has the master bedroom and the living area, including a kitchen with wall space for Mike Rey's display of his 350 bottle hot sauce collection. There will be a wine cooler in the kitchen. The home's "front porch, " really a balcony that wraps around the second floor, will have a tiki bar.
Missing are a lawn or pool, which Mike Rey is fine with. It's also built with steel beams and concrete to make it hurricane proof, Rey said.
Rising Dunedin High School senior and future hair dresser Lauren Rey, 17, said she looks forward to being able to just walk to downtown for food and ice cream.
Her parents are looking forward to the 10-second commute.
Mike and Robin Rey hope their home will stimulate downtown's growth toward the northerneastern-most edge. They said they can't wait to finally move in.
"Every square inch of it is made by our choices, " said Robin Rey. "There's no two of these."