The Moreton Bay fig tree is allegedly the second- or third-oldest tree in the county.
  • The Moreton Bay fig tree is allegedly the second- or third-oldest tree in the county.
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901 Highland Avenue, Del Mar, 92014

901 Highland Avenue, Del Mar, 92014

The half-acre estate at 901 Highland Avenue offers prospective buyers a “rare opportunity to own one of the largest lots in Olde Del Mar.” The listing goes on to describe the space as “a private park featuring one of the oldest, most enchanting trees in San Diego County.”

Current Owner: Keith Mantis

Beds: 4

Baths: 5

List Price: $8,488,000

Casa Chévere, as the property is referenced, “was built in the late 1920s by Everett E. Ellis, a key contributor to the early development of Del Mar.” Curiously, no readily available text on the city’s history refers to Ellis.

“Rich in charm and elegance, this extraordinary Spanish retreat” contains four bedrooms and five baths spread across nearly 4400 square feet of living area. Though originally constructed in 1927, extensive remodeling over the years has caused the county’s tax assessor to assign an “effective” build date of 1986, though “original 1920s hardwood floors and ceiling beams remain preserved throughout the home” that’s been “fused with the modern architecture, flair and renovation of local architects Bokal & Sneed.” Solana Beach–based contractor Steigerwald-Dougherty, a firm whose award-winning projects include The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe, was retained to complete the remodel.

Exterior work entailed a “complete pool/spa remodel”

“The extensive renovation included seismic retrofitting, new foundation in the family room, floor to ceiling glass windows and doors in the family room to bring the outdoors in, enclosing and expanding the detached guest house, new plumbing, piping, electrical, appliances and fixtures.” Exterior work entailed a “complete pool/spa remodel including piping and re-finishing, all new exterior lighting, landscaping, irrigation and drainage” to go with new wrought iron fencing and a paver driveway.

“A massive one-slab marble top island, two sinks, two dishwashers...”

Luxury appointments begin in the kitchen, with “a massive one-slab marble top island, two sinks, two dishwashers, an oversized Sub-Zero refrigerator, six-burner Viking range, custom cabinets and incredible finishes and design.” The home’s heating and air conditioning systems have been redone, and the whole property (including the guest house and garage) utilizes “a high-end dehumidifier system.”

The guest house features floors that “are pavers from the streets of Paris from the 1800s,” along with a bedroom suite featuring a “Juliette balcony overlooking the pool and lush landscape.”

The detached guest house, part of the 1986 remodel

Besides the pool area, outdoor entertaining spaces include a patio with wood-burning fireplace the listing claims is over 100 years old, along with “serene rose gardens, fruit trees,” and the “majestic Moreton Bay Fig Tree” that listing materials claim “is the second- or third-oldest tree in San Diego County.”

Taking offers between $7,988,000 and $8,488,000

“This property is extremely private, over the top in detail and design, and truly one of a kind,” the listing concludes, declaring the home “unmatched and ready for a true Real Estate Collector!”

Public records indicate ownership of Casa Chévere currently lies with Keith Mantis, a Las Vegas–based businessman who founded tool-and-construction-supply companies Fasteners Inc. and Southwestern Supply — the company has operated stores locally under the ToolUp brand.

The most recent reported public sale was in 2012 for just over $5.2 million. The buyer — Promethius Advertising (also of Las Vegas, listed with the same mailing address as Mantis), transferred the property to Mantis’s personal trust in 2014.

The estate hit the market for the first time since Mantis’s purchase in mid-September of 2017. The list agent seeks offers between $7,988,000 and $8,488,000.

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