REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- </span>Hurry inside: Ignore Square's repetitive exterior<span class="s1">
ADDRESS: 755 Walker Square, Apartment 4B
NEIGHBORHOOD: West Main Street
CITY ASSESSMENT: individual unit not yet assessed
YEAR BUILT: 2004
SIZE: 1,230 finished sq. ft.
LAND: 0 acres
CURB APPEAL: 6.5 out of 10
LISTED BY: Jason Waldrop of Real Estate III, 977-3033
Owning a condo offers freedom from numerous routine home-owner hassles: yardwork, roof and gutter maintenance, and painting, not to mention the challenge of finding and scheduling a trustworthy contractor amid the current construction frenzy.
But in addition to those generic advantages, Walker Square offers another dimension of convenience. Thanks to its location within easy walking distance of Downtown, the Corner, and UVA, residents have car-free access to numerous restaurants and watering holes, making it easy to eat out rather than fouling the kitchen and to have a few extra drinks before walking home without designated driver worries. Lots of jobs are also within walking or biking distance, eliminating commuting headaches.
Walker Square's shared amenities include a well-equipped gym, pool, and exercise room, so residents can stay fit right at home, and the 225 total units mean it's probably possible to make friends just by walking across the parking lot.
It's a good thing that the complex offers all those advantages, because the actual apartments, both inside and out, are kind of banal. With only six different floorplans among the 225 units, the 17 distinct buildings are inherently repetitive, but the architects made a feeble attempt to vary the facades to simulate the look of city rowhouses.
The unconvincing variations provide some visual variety over facades that stretch for hundreds of feet, but lifting elements like faux balcony railings and dormers from architecture of other times and places might strike many observers as the epitome of slavish falseness.
The exterior is doubly unfortunate since it's one of the main things seen from this apartment on the south side of the top floor of building 755. Luckily, the south-facing windows also reveal the pretty silhouette of distant mountains. In another questionable design move, the single large east-facing window looks directly into the neighboring building, creating an alarming lack of privacy.
The interior is an uninspired but unobjectionable blank canvas: white walls and gray carpet. The entrance is into a flex space/dining area informally separated from the kitchen by an angled isthmus of kitchen counter. Part of this space, to the right of the kitchen, is the living room area, with double glass doors providing plenty of light. The two bedrooms, one ever so slightly larger than the other, are on either side of this living room area.
Both bedrooms feature ceiling fans and generous closets, just big enough to be considered walk-ins, each with a lone Rubbermaid shelf of plastic-coated wire grid (think dish-drying rack). But that might encourage a new owner to rip them out and maximize the closet space with some kind of personalized closet storage system.
Next to each bedroom is a bathroom with a separate entrance, housing a wide white marble vanity (the only exposed natural material in the building), single sink, toilet and fiberglass tub with tile-surround shower, also white.
The kitchen has gray laminate countertops, stainless steel appliances and cabinets marketed as "chestnut Shaker." While they do have a chestnut hue and the clean lines of Shaker design, the material appears to be some sort of composite created in a wood-chip amalgamation plant. It's unlikely the rigorously nature- and simplicity-preferring Shakers would approve. However, the tiny rod-shaped pulls are attractive, and add to the clean, modern feel.
Tucked on the far side of the kitchen is a small mechanical room with washer and dryer, while the entry closet houses the security system and high-speed Internet router.
The craftsmanship appears solid in most respects.
Local real-estate baron Coran Capshaw and a partner built the Walker Square complex as apartments that opened in summer 2004. But in September 2005, Octopus Property LLC, of Washington, DC, purchased the property for $33 million and converted the apartments to condos. Since then, about 80 of the 225 units have been sold, according to the agent.
All unit owners pay a monthly fee of $106.28, which covers the upkeep of the communal facilities including the pool, clubhouse, and gym; a round-the-clock security guard; and high-speed Internet access, trash pickup, and parking.
While the repetitive exterior may deter some buyers, many more may be drawn to the convenience. The complex's own picture-filled 30-page marketing brochure seems to agree with our analysis. Of the 46 glossy pictures, only three small ones show an unobstructed view of the complex exterior, while 22 depict the various conveniences the place offers. Another 14 of the photos highlight the classy modern decor of the showcase apartment. Following the guidance of the brochure (or the talented decorator hired by the complex) to imprint the blank-canvas interior of this apartment with their own style might make it possible for new owners to overlook the exterior.
PHOTOS BY BREVY CANNON