REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- The new old: Efficient craftsman lands in Belvedere


Address: 664 Tyree Lane

Neighborhood: Belvedere in Charlottesville

Asking: $549,000

Assessment: $543,600

Year Built: 2008

Size: 4,133 fin Sq. ft. / 504 unfin. Sq. ft.

Land: 0.131 acres

Agent: Gregory L. Slater, Real Estate III, (434) 981-6655

Curb Appeal: 8 out of 10

Tucked off of Rio Road and bordering the Rivanna River, the Belvedere development is currently home to five families– including its first move-in buyers, the White/Harris family profiled in The Hook on September 18 in a story entitled, "Lonely utopia? Belvedere's first family digs its new digs".

Although the development is new, its roots are old: the property was once the site of Dunlora plantation, as well as a 224-acre estate purchased in 1788 by a free African-American woman named Amy Farrow, according to Steve Thompson of Rivanna Archaeology.

Over two centuries later, 30 acres of the historic African-American property are part of Belvedere, whose developers plan to erect an interpretive kiosk to explain this untouched patch of grass and trees. The developers also have big plans for a retail center, dog park, organic farm, and more new homes.

Alas, the current state of the economy and the financial woes of the development's two original builders has slowed progress. Potential Belvedere buyers might find good deals– but they may also want to gain confidence that the housing market will turn around so that the Belvedere vision will eventually be realized, lest they end up living eternally in an unfinished construction zone.

For now, lead developer Stonehaus Inc. is proudly showcasing Phase 1, which includes this house, a spacious three-bedroom home on a narrow lot.

Pitched as a turn-of-the-century Craftsman-style home for the buyer who wants to bypass turn-of-the-century wiring, it boasts plenty of attention to detail. Like all Belvedere houses, this one is EarthCraft certified, with extra insulation, an on-demand water heater, and two heating/cooling systems with three zones, allowing for targeted comfort and efficiency. There's a security system and audio wiring throughout the house, as well as fiberoptics. 

The red oak-floored downstairs is user-friendly, with a mudroom (complete with a bench and four cubbyholes) plus a glistening, spacious kitchen with granite-topped counters, an ample island, and stainless steel GE appliances (but fridge and freezer are not included).

A breakfast area flows into the family room with a built-in bookshelf and a gas fireplace. The floor plan also includes a living room, a formal dining room with two-tone walls and crown molding, and– most endearingly– a butler's pantry with loads of shelving, a small sink, and a built-in wine rack.

A staircase with a square picket railing leads up to three carpeted bedrooms on the second floor. The two identical bedrooms at the front-end of the house sport walk-in closets that say, "thank you, Mom" all over them. At the top of the staircase lie a full bath and a laundry room, which means no trudging to the basement in your slippers and skivvies.

The expansive master suite is designed with white ceramic floor tiles in the bath and a tan geometric tile border along the jetted tub. Rounding out the picture are a glassed-in shower and his-and-her sinks along with his-and-hers walk-in closets. 

The third floor, however, is perhaps the most interesting. Since the house was stick framed, the top ceiling is the same pitch as the roof, with dramatic angles and four beams dividing up the ceiling like knife slices in a pie– although a natural wood finish might have been preferable to white paint. With a private bath and three alcoves with window seats, the finished attic is spacious, full of natural light and possibilities: Office? Playroom? Ginormous bedroom?

The house is finished off with a separate two-car garage with a one-bedroom apartment overhead. When the Board of Supervisors approved Belvedere, they did so on the condition that the subdivision provide affordable housing. At $549,000 (lowered from $559,000), this one, like many Belvedere properties, does not seem to qualify. Instead, the developers offer the garages as a way for homeowners to offset the cost of steep mortgages, although none of the five families have done so at this time, though one Belvedere homeowner reportedly uses her garage apartment for a massage business.

For all of the Craftsman detailing and the historic site, this house lacks some character of an older home. It's like the perfect guy with perfect manners: you know you're supposed to love it, but somehow a few flaws would make it seem more special. Maybe all the house needs is that first family to add a little Crayola to the playroom walls.




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