Let me tell you a story about our journey to
The 1616 House
Hey y'all, our names are Cristina & Spencer Cadden!
We found the house online in March 2019 via Zillow after looking for about a year online. We typed our criteria in and the search expanded from Texas all the way to North Carolina. We weren’t set on a certain state or city, but we knew we wanted to be in the South. Although neither of us had family, friends, or had ever really been to the South. All we knew is we were ready for a change. The plan was to find a property that was at least 6,000 sq ft, 1.5 acres+, had to be near an airport, 100,000+ population, the city was on an upswing, 4 bed/4 bath+, and the most important that it HAD to be zoned commercial or dual zoned. That was my non-negotiable. Coming from the wedding industry in San Diego, I knew I wanted to open an event venue, but also knew how difficult it can be to rezone the property. Especially after I looked into the process in SD and it would have cost more than $150,000+ to do so.
In the year search, we only found 6 properties that fit what we were looking for in the price range we had. Of course, the one house I loved the most wasn’t zoned commercial. Spencer kept saying, “don’t even go look at it, you will just be too sad and I would hate to see you fall in love with the one house you can’t have.” Sure enough, the one other house I really loved was in Opelika, AL, about 50 mins from Montgomery. One of our good friend’s (shoutout Britt & Jack) was getting married in Miami and since I was already flying to this side of the country, I figured might as well stop in Alabama on my way back to San Diego to look at the Opelika house, but stop in Montgomery JUST to see it in person. I figured why not. I already knew it was disqualified as it didn’t meet the number 1 priority on the list. Sure enough, I went to the Opelika property and although it was beautiful, it just wasn’t the one. I felt defeated and called Spencer to tell him how it went. He proceeded to say, “Well, just go to the Montgomery house with an open mind.”
He proceeded to remind me that we can do whatever we set our minds to and if it’s in the Lord’s plan, then it will happen. The next morning I drove to Montgomery and when I pulled up, I just knew. I walked into the mansion and cried. The insanely sweet real estate agent was actually the daughter of the deceased owners and the property had been vacant for 6 years. Although it was perfect in my eyes. I told her everything I wanted to do and she advised me to go down to the Land Use department to see if it was even possible. I drove straight down there, walked in, and was like “um, hi, sorry I don’t have an appointment but here is what I want to do with this property, is it possible?” To my surprise, Christy Anderson and James Center (head of the Architectural Review Board & Land Use Department) sat down with me for over 2 hours and told me everything I would need to do and whom I would need to speak to. They also warned me that it would be extremely difficult, but they agreed it was the best use for this property. That started the months-long process of rezoning.
To say it was stressful and defeating would be an understatement. I won’t go into that side right now cause today is a happy day, but one day I’ll say more about those few months. What I will say is there are incredible people in this city that did everything to help. They saw the value and the need. To you, I say THANK you and you will never truly know who thankful we are. In December 2019 we successfully rezoned the property and the work officially begun. From start to now, it’s been the best/hardest year of our lives, but we are forever grateful.
Cheers to finishing the restoration and opening for business!
-Cristina & Spencer Cadden