REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- Fat and happy: Character, donuts available in Belmont


ADDRESS: 708 Graves Street

NEIGHBORHOOD:  Belmont in Charlottesville

ASKING:  $369,900

ASSESSMENT:  $319,100


SIZE:  1,490 fin. sq. ft., 344 unfin.

LAND:  0.09 acres

CURB APPEAL:  8 out of 10

AGENT:  Karen Ball, Loring Woodriff Associates, 249-3199

We're suckers for older houses, thus Charlottesville is our kind of town, as neighborhoods like Fry's Spring and Belmont, the latter the site of this week's tour, are full of early 20th-century places with lots of character.

Properly handled, such buildings can be maintained and even renovated without losing an ounce of charm. This brown stucco house fits that bill, making the most of its square footage inside, a flat landscaped lot outside– plus a separate garage. 

Let's get this out of the way: you can see the iconic Spudnuts shop from the front porch, about 100 yards away– enough of a walk to burn off the calories in a tiny bite (call it one-sixteenth) of the famous potato donut confection. Walk back and forth 96 times, and maybe you can burn off a donut or donut. 

But in addition to a workout, the location has things we can sit and talk about over coffee and donu– okay, okay. Sorry! In other food news, the haute cuisine and adult beverages of downtown Belmont await three blocks away. There's even a sweet shortcut: Monticello Road is accessible via a footpath at the end of Little Graves, a dead-end street sharing one side of this corner lot with "big" (we suppose) Graves.

Inside, a wider-than-usual foyer combines with nine-foot ceilings and bright colors to create a spacious effect. Original hardwoods have aged well, and cover every floor upstairs and down save the bathroom (speaking of which, there's only one, and it's upstairs).While it's roomy enough for a chat between, say, an agent and a writer, the lonely loo also contains a double-stacked washer and dryer– convenient on the sleeping level, especially in older houses where basements are more like cellars. 

The wall separating the kitchen pantry and hall closet could come down to house a first-floor powder room: we highly recommend this for any parents of potty-training toddlers who may opt to settle here!

Our bathroom break over, we see the same wide foyer upstairs, plus two bedrooms and a smaller office overlooking the front yard. The only closet is in the front bedroom, and while its narrow confines might house the wardrobe of Flat Stanley, it ain't gonna work for anyone with shoulders. The current owner uses a portable wardrobe, and has also put down a floor in the walk-up attic to create easily accessible storage space.

Having lived four years in Germany, where built-in closets don't exist, we wouldn't really mind to missing closets, but your second child might grow to resent having to crawl under 12 pairs of hanging trousers to get to her bed. If you move in here, then, best pretend you're a Chinese citizen and stop at one kid.

The eat-in kitchen is spacious enough to accommodate dancing: we recommend a mirror ball to match a certain appliance that can only be described as Disco-licious. While the cabinets have been updated, the Harvest Gold gas stove dares you to replace it. The seller loves its Castro-like endurance, but she's open to providing a new one.

Other than that prop from That '70s Show, the cooking space has one more unique feature: until now, we'd never seen a pantry with a window– if you opt to make it a half-bath, every claustrophobic frequent urinator who visits will surely thank you.

Having coaxed more than maximum mileage from the kitchen, we walk through the back door onto a peaceful porch. The previous owners were landscape architects, and they mixed slate, mulch, and plants to create a Zen garden that covers the lot– no grass to mow. The basement provides more storage but is accessible only from the outside, and the already-wired garage could become a studio or office.

Get to work on the garage! Where else will you stash your Spudnuts?




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