Since Masoud and Belinda Haghighi purchased the 10-acre property in 2004, the couple has made it their mission to renovate and enhance the 12 former summer cabins, as well as the surrounding areas — much to the approval of their long-term tenants.
With the help of their family and tenants, the Haghighis have spent 9 years repaving driveways, pouring cement for steps and walkways, refurbishing electrical and plumbing and, most recently, reopening the property's pool.
“It was really run-down,” said Masoud Haghighi, a native of Iran who retired from a 26-year career as a health inspector for Santa Clara County.
He said that their goal was to make the property as nice, and as affordable, as possible for their tenants.
“Wherever I go, I want to make it as beautiful as I can,” Masoud Haghighi said. “We want to make (the property) as somewhere we want to live.”
Belinda Haghighi, who retired from a career in banking management, said that the tenants had been skeptical — fearing dramatic rent increases — when she and her husband announced the changes that they'd envisioned when they first purchased the land, which had a somewhat colorful history as a haven for countercultural types. Locals may remember a bright-orange peace sign that could be seen from Highway 9 for several years.
Once the improvements began taking place, however, tenants began responding positively, she said.
James Honroth, who's lived in one of the rental units for some 20 years, said that the Haghighis were a welcome change from the previous ownership, which he described as “absentee.”
“It's been a vast improvement,” Honroth said. “The whole place was about to fall off the cliff.”
The Haghighis transformed the outside portion of the four-unit building where Honroth's unit is situated into a proper patio, complete with an archway and flagstones.
Just last weekend, the patio played host to a wedding, as dozens of people came to see the bride — one of the Haghighis' tenants — and groom wed under the arch.
“(The bride) told me 'I want to get married here,'” Masoud Haghighi said. “I'm still in shock, but it happened.”
Honroth, along with his neighbor David Savage, a 12-year resident of the property, said that they particularly appreciated the paving of the private road that leads to their units. Before that had happened, they said, tree crews couldn't get their vehicles up what was then a dirt road to remove a fallen tree.
“Masoud did a lot of hard work,” said Savage.
Belinda Haghighi said that many of the tenants — mostly working professionals — have helped them renovate the property, including John Salvato of Pool Diamond Pool and Spa, who lives on-site and manages the pool.
Masoud Haghighi said that the renovation has been a team effort between he and his wife.
“The bank owns it, Belinda manages it, and I'm the handyman,” he said. “I'm shocked how fortunate we were to be able to purchase this property.”