Retired hotelier alleviates tedium with extraordinary Margate home makeover

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RAY SCHWEIBERT For the press

The attractive home for sale at 8506 Fremont Ave. in Margate is concrete proof that some of the greatest spontaneous creations can emerge from everyday activities.

Margate resident Joe Hirsch, who lives about a block away on Nassau Avenue, struck up a friendly chat with the home’s previous owner while walking his dog. The meeting set in motion an agreement under which Hirsch purchased the property, bringing it into the 21st century with personal expertise and specialist advice, making it surely one of the most beautiful and functionally efficient homes in a highly desirable part of the city.

“We struck up a conversation and she told me her house was for sale (before any signs were put up),” he says. “About a week later I noticed the for sale sign out front and let her know I was interested. We did some numbers and everything was done within about two weeks.”

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Hirsch had extensive experience in the commercial construction industry and recently retired from the hotel business his parents started in Cape May in the mid-1960s. Looking for something to spend his newfound free time on, he made the Margate house his maiden voyage into residential restoration.

“I took about six months off, but I found I was terribly bored,” he says. “This would be my first attempt at renovating residential property. We negotiated a deal where (the previous owner) was able to stay in the house until she could prepare to move closer to where her son lives, which proved mutually beneficial as it gave my wife and I more time had an idea what we could do to restore it.

“And it all came about because I was walking my dog.”

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The attention to detail in the redesign of 8506 Fremont not only extended to aesthetics, but also to form and function. The original parquet flooring has been carefully restored to its original luster on both levels. Anything that was outdated or not in need of restoration was completely replaced with modern modernizations, in many cases with the help of friends and former colleagues who were more experienced in residential building restoration.

“We started with a landscaper to tidy things up around the house. We had to do some minor plumbing and electrical work but found that structurally it was mostly in great condition.

“I’ve always been in the construction business but needed help getting the design and aesthetics right. So we brought in a friend who is an interior designer, Natalie Tyler from Natalie Design. She was a great help in that. You and my wife Amy did a great job.”

Hirsch also hired a friend and longtime general contractor, Alex Balcerski (, to help with heavier lifting jobs such as B. kitchen remodel with all-new GE stainless steel appliances; Renovation of all three bathrooms (including a powder room on the first floor) with large porcelain tiles, new cabinets and fixtures such as his and hers vanities in the master bathroom; and complete replacement of all doors and interior panels.

The old lighting was completely converted to LED recessed lights. The hardwood floors — which were carpeted in all three second floor bedrooms — were stripped, sanded, urethane coated, and completely repainted. The entire interior has also been repainted.

In addition to the kitchen, dining area and living room, the open plan first floor also features a bonus room that can be used as either a fourth bedroom, office or lounge. The home’s central air conditioning and heating system is all new, as is a Mitsubishi mini-split system that handles the heating and cooling duties on the first floor.

This superbly renovated home in Margate is cosy, modern and ready for summer fun

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“I use (mini-splits) at home,” he says. “It’s ductless, uses a lot of electricity and heats and cools very efficiently.”

The exterior of the home features new railings on a spacious porch, vinyl siding where needed and an all new concrete deck in the fenced back yard. An outdoor shower was also modernized and everything outside was cleaned with high pressure. The house has a concrete driveway that can accommodate two cars, but street parking is rarely a problem in this remote part of Margate.

“It’s in a great spot that doesn’t get busy even in the summer,” says Hirsch, who notes that the property’s backyard has a fruiting fig tree that was likely planted by its previous owner, who lived there for about 35 years years lived all year round. “It’s a quiet area but close enough to all the activities on Amherst and Monmouth (Avenues) and other parts of the city. This would be ideal for a year round stay or a seaside retreat.”

The home is two blocks from Jerome Avenue Park and its public playgrounds, ball fields, tennis and basketball courts. The Milton & Betty Katz Jewish Community Center (, which offers numerous social, recreational and fitness opportunities, is also an easy walking distance, as are numerous restaurants and Casel’s supermarket.

The house is close to Margate’s Downbeach Express, which connects Absecon Island directly to the mainland and offers even more dining and shopping opportunities. The six-mile boardwalk through Atlantic City begins a brisk walk or bike ride a few blocks away on the Ventnor border.

“I’m really happy with how things went,” says Hirsch. “I enjoyed my first home renovation and I hope everyone who buys it will enjoy it for the next 30 or 40 years.”

(For more information or to take a tour of this superbly updated Margate home, qualified buyers can call agent Paula Hartman direct at 609-271-7337 or Todd Gordon at 609-553-5098 or the Berkshire office at Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach at 609-487-7234. Prospective buyers can also email Paula at [email protected] or Todd at [email protected].)

This article was created with the support of Paula Hartman of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach.

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