Price range: $345,000-$1,200,000
Schools: Baker-Butler, Sutherland, Albemarle
Pros: convenient location, large lots
Cons: potentially hazardous access, wide variance in lot & house sizes and in prices
The Bentivar subdivision in Northern Albemarle County has an interesting history, one that far predates an infamous cat-killing incident a few years ago that landed one Bentivar resident behind bars for shooting his neighbor's pet after it allegedly scratched his cars.
Originally built by Garland Carr, grandson of Major Thomas Carr, who held a patent for over 5,000 acres, the Bentivar estate was built around 1795 on a hill overlooking the confluence of the North and South forks of the Rivanna River. Several other Carr family estates– Dunlora, Red Hill and Carrsbrook– were situated nearby.
Though the original Bentivar burned in 1830, it was redesigned and rebuilt by noted architect Thomas Blackburn, who studied at the University of Virginia under Thomas Jefferson. Blackburn’s influence lent enough signficance to land the home, situated at 1601 Bentivar Farm Drive, on the National Register of Historic Places.
The property remained in the Carr family until the late 19th century, passing through several hands until it was sold to a developer in 1963, by which time the home had fallen into derelict condition. Since then, the house has undergone renovation while maintaining the integrity of its historical signficance, and the land has been divided into approximately 100 multi-acre lots populated by single family homes.
According to the Charlottesville MLS (Multiple Listing Service), there have been seven sales in Bentivar over the past two years, ranging in price from $345,000 to $1,200,000 and in size from two to 32 acres. Currently, there are five active listings in the subdivision, which means that the sellers could be in for long listing periods, given the statistics. In fact, a couple of them have been on the market for over a year already.
Though located just moments away from the Hollymead Town Center and Rio Hill Shopping Center and situated within easy commuting distance of NGIC and GE, Bentivar feels quite private. A number of the lots feature mature trees and river views, adding to the rural character of the subdivision.
Although there are no common areas or established playgrounds in Bentivar, there is no shortage of recreation available to the residents. Parents of youth soccer players may find themselves with an easy drive if their child’s game is held on one of the five fields at the South Fork Soccer Complex, home to the Soccer Organization of Charlottesville Albemarle. Those who prefer water sports can enjoy the canoeing, kayaking and fishing afforded by the Rivanna River.
The bottomland located between the two forks of the Rivanna was farmed for many years before being placed under the stewardship of the Nature Conservancy, which worked to restore some of the historic wetlands and to plant a riparian belt forest.
Byrd Abbott, a realtor with Roy Wheeler Realty Co. and the listing agent for the home at 2432 Walnut Ridge Road, credits Bentivar’s appeal with a couple of things.
“It’s very conveniently located,” she says. “One of the nicest things about it is that if 29 is congested for some reason, you have another way to get out via Proffit Road. Also, the lots are large, which a lot of people like.”
Finding drawbacks proves harder.
“I suppose some people may be uncomfortable about the one-lane part of the road that goes under the railroad bridge,” Abbott says, referring to the nearby bridge on Polo Grounds Road just south of the neighborhood where cars rely on mirrors and honking to avoid accidents under the narrow passage.
When asked about market activity in Bentivar in general and the contributing factors to the long listing periods for some of the homes– her own listing included, Abbott credits individual preference as a major influence.
“There’s a very wide price range and size range of both lots and houses in Bentivar,” she says, noting that, “Some people think that my listing, which is situated on four acres, feels too isolated while others complain that it’s not quite private enough.”
Personal tastes aside, there’s one other element that buyers may consider– and that could be contributing to lengthy listing times. Abbott approaches it realistically.
“I think a lot of people are still waiting for prices to fall back in line,” she says, citing a truism that applies to the overall market and not just to Bentivar.