REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- Basic brick: Rancher ready for re-do

<P><B>ADDRESS:</B> 1021 St. Charles Avenue
<P><B>NEIGHBORHOOD:</B> Locust Grove
<P><B>ASKING:</B> $245,000
<P><B>YEAR BUILT:</B> 1961
<P><B>SIZE:</B> 2,140 fin. sq. ft., 611 unfin.
<P><B>LAND: </B>0.186 acres
<P><B>CURB APPEAL:</B> 5 out of 10
<P><B>LISTED BY: </B>Marina Ringstrom, Real Estate III, 465-0035<B>
<P></B>Thinking outside the box is a challenge when there are three identical boxes in a row. But thinking outside the box is what's required in this brick rancher just behind Locust Avenue. There are no surprises here, but lots of potential awaiting a creative buyer.
<P>An important note: the week we toured the house, there were only 17 houses on the market in Charlottesville between $200,00 and 250,000, according to the agent. So the house is of interest if for no other reason than its price.
<P>But in addition, the convenient location and the amount of space for the dollar make the place worth a visit for people who want a solid, if unexciting, house with some ground around it and lots of little bedrooms for little kids.
<P>Behind the prosaic exterior, the owners have invested in some worthwhile improvements, with sometimes jarring results. First is a giant side-by-side refrigerator. Unfortunately, it blocks the door to the wrap-around deck (but refrigerators can be moved). Then, there's a lovely granite sink immersed in a Formica countertop. The balancing act continues with ceiling fans in rooms with eight-foot ceilings. Most successful are the green fixtures in a pretty vanity sink in the bathroom. The hardwood floors are in good shape.
<P>Considering the rickety closet doors in the tiny bedrooms, the idea of tearing down a wall here and there to create some breathing room immediately springs to mind. This seems to be a sound house begging for some innovative updates.
<P> The owners put considerable resources into creating a master suite in the basement. Unfortunately, it still feels like a basement. But with a little revamping, the large room could be a great place for kids to play, and an additional small room to the side could be a study. The unfinished half of the basement has walk-out capability– French doors and some sheetrock could transform this storage area into a pleasant space. Outside, creating a patio under the deck would provide a nice spot, protected and private, to relax in summer. A large Rubbermaid-like storage shed that, like the fridge, blocks the light, would be easy to relocate.
<P>Sloping down to a large maple tree, the fenced back yard might be a mowing challenge, but on the other hand, the greenery provides a nice enough vista from that potential patio, and children and dogs can romp about safely. Formal plantings of azaleas and other perennials now coming into their glory go a long way to softening the flat brick front.
<P>Balance the availability of a place with this many square feet in the downtown area for this price, and it will be easy to give this house a second, and even a third look. Then get over to the library and check out a copy of <I>Creative Kitchens</I> or <I>The Handyman's Guide to Updating Your Home</I>, and you're good to go.
<P><B><img src="/images/issues/2005/0418/house-front.jpg">
<P><img src="/images/issues/2005/0418/house-back.jpg">
<P><img src="/images/issues/2005/0418/house-other.jpg">