Bell in Serenity Garden overlooking South River
Price range: $49,000-$499,900
Schools: Berkeley Glenn Elementary, Wenonah Elementary, Westwood Hills Elementary, William Perry Elementary, Kate Collins Middle School, Waynesboro High School
Pros: lower prices, hometown vibe
Cons: lack of cultural opportunities, potentially long and expensive commutes
From Flack to Teesville to Waynesborough to Waynesboro– the name of the city that sits across Afton Mountain has undergone an interesting evolution. In the late 1770s, the Tees Tavern opened and the city became known as Teesville. Twenty years later, when James Flack bought several parcels of land and divided them into lots, the town became known as Flack. A short time later, it was renamed Waynesborough after the Revolutionary war hero, General Anthony Wayne.
Waynesboro, as it is now known, grew slowly during the early 1800s, becoming more prosperous when passenger service commenced on the railroad between Richmond and Staunton. The town, like the Confederacy itself, suffered when Rebel commander Jubal Early lost his last battle of the Civil War there in 1865.
The city has seen a lot of re-growth since then, and the recent upswing in the real estate market has Lori Kindig, realtor with RE/MAX Advantage and lifelong Waynesboro resident, feeling optimistic.
“Our market here is improving,” says Kindig. “We're seeing an increase in list prices, sale prices, and the amount of homes selling overall from last year, and I am confident we'll continue this success in years to come.
“You get more bang for your buck here compared to other markets, especially Charlottesville,” she adds.
Data provided by Kindig supports her assertion. Of the 214 homes currently listed in the Charlottesville area, the average list price is $292,500. By contrast, the average asking price of the 386 listings in Waynesboro is $174,000.
David Lampert, co-owner of the house at 1326 Keesling Avenue, which was listed by Kindig and went under contract before this article went to press, agrees.
“I find that the cost of goods and services is lower in Waynesboro than in Charlottesville. And certainly property values are lower so you can get more for your money.”
On the downside, however, is the cultural scene.
Chickpeas, the Green Leaf Grill, and the Purple Foot offer ethnic and eclectic food options, but there’s a notable lack of both fine dining and nightlife in Waynesboro. This is changing somewhat with the revitalization of the Wayne Theatre, which dates to 1926.
In addition to a variety of shows, the Theatre is hosting a Progressive Dinner on June 2 featuring chefs from restaurants across the region. Still, it’s a far cry from the array of choices on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall, where one can find everything from a burger and fries to a bowl of goat curry before enjoying shows at the Paramount, the Southern, Live Arts, the Pavilion, or the Jefferson, in addition to smaller venues that feature live music and other entertainment nearly every night.
There’s no lack of opportunity for enjoying outdoor activities, however. Waynesboro’s 85-acre Ridgeview Park offers tennis and basketball courts, baseball and soccer fields, a pool, a play area, an amphitheater, jogging trails, and fishing in the South River.
Need something more active? Head into nearby Shenandoah National Park for a hike.
Seeking something more contemplative? Visit the Serenity Garden, a cancer awareness garden tucked away in a corner of Ridgeview Park.
But for buyers who plan to live in Waynesboro and work in Charlottesville or Staunton, there’s a big additional cost to consider– namely, the gas needed for a 30-plus mile commute. But lower purchase prices and savings on property taxes (.75 cents per $100 of assessed value for Waynesboro versus .95 cents for Charlottesville and .90 cents for Staunton) can go a long way toward offsetting fuel costs.
And, as Lampert points out, there’s a fair amount of industry nearby with McKee Foods, the Target Distribution center, Hershey’s Chocolate and Little Debbie’s providing employment opportunities.
Kindig was understandably pleased that Lampert’s house went under contract the same day she activated it in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), but not surprised.
“Houses in that price range are moving quickly in that school district,” she says.