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Standing on the sidewalk on Brown Street in Napa, Joe Brasil looked up at the exterior of his latest home project. Before him stood a derelict two-story structure with broken windows, boarded up doors, peeling paint and ripped shingles. And that was just the outside.

“This is my beauty,” he said.

Brasil was only partly joking. Working with a team of professionals, he’s going to completely renovate the building from top to bottom. When he’s done, the 116-year old home will be a showplace, he promised.

Then, he’ll to put it on the market “and find someone who will appreciate what I’ve done,” he said. “The goal is to invest in my neighborhood, improve values and make a profit.”

Rotted wood, peeling layers of old wallpaper and leaky roofs don’t deter Brasil. He has a vision for the home.

“I’m going to try to keep as much of its vintage integrity as possible,” such as the original wood floors, doors and other period touches, Brasil said. “I’m going to bring the old charm back.”

Some might see the severely neglected home at 523 Brown St. and think it should be demolished. Not Brasil. “I just couldn’t,” he said. “There is history here and that’s something I’m a fan of,” he said.

Brasil, a local Realtor, said he purchased the home in November for $150,000. Unoccupied for more than 30 years, Brasil said the owner of the Napa Rug Company used to own the home and ran his business in a large barn in the backyard.

The circa-1897 home is located in the Napa Abajo district, just a block from the Napa County Library and the historic Napa Mill.

The project is exciting, he said. “There’s all this energy coming into this neighborhood.”

Brasil does have a vested interest in the improvements. He lives just a block away on Brown Street in a home he also restored. This will be the seventh home he’s renovated and the third on Brown Street, he said.

Of all of his projects, this home is in the worst condition to start with, he admitted. But he’s not daunted. He’s gained experience from remodeling the other homes. “I know how to approach it now,” he said.

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Brasil said he has a $250,000 budget for the renovation. Almost everything about the home needs to be fixed, he said. There is no kitchen. A new foundation will be built. He’ll add a bathroom upstairs and reorganize the two bedrooms. A large barn in the backyard will be renovated as a work or office space with bathroom.

He plans a mix of modern and vintage touches to create a cottage-type design. “When you combine those two elements, buyers respond,” he said.  

Brasil said he’s not sure how much he will list the home for when he’s done with the project in June. “The market is really taking off now,” he said. “Prices are elevating.”

“It depends on what the market is doing” this summer, he said.

The Realtor said neighbors and pedestrians have definitely noticed his work. “They say, ‘Oh my gosh, you bought that.’”

“I say, ‘Yeah, I did.’”

“I’m falling in love with it,” he said. “It’s going to be hard to sell in June.”


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