REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- Corner house: Bagels and Buckingham Branch add charm


Address: 701 West Street

Neighborhood: Venable

Asking: $349,000

Assessment: $351,200

Year Built: 2006

Size: 2,112 fin. sq. ft. 

Land: 0.12 acres

Agent: Tommy Brannock, Real Estate III 434-981-1486

Curb Appeal:  7 out of 10

Situated on a large corner lot with the Pilgrim Baptist Church as its only neighbor, the urban retreat at 701 West Street is quiet and shady– that is, until the train comes through. But that's the price residents pay to be within walking distance of the Preston Avenue Bodo's. And since locomotives are required to slow down and refrain from blowing the whistle within city limits, the train was less noisy than we expected.

With three porches— one in the front, a screened-in area in back, and an upstairs balcony— the house is certainly primed for enjoying the outdoors. It has the good fortune to adjoin an empty lot maintained by the church, which apparently is used only for extra parking on Sunday mornings and the occasional church function, so, theoretically, owners can rest easy about future development. 

Shade trees and trimmed lawn add a park-like feel to this mixed-income neighborhood, where assessments range from $133,700 to $379,100, making this place one of the more valuable on the block. 

Other houses along the street date to 1920-1940, but since the original house at this address burned in 1999, the owners felt free, when they rebuilt, to follow their vision.

Touted as a green home, the place screams sustainability. Green features include extra insulation, low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint, and double-paned, argon-filled windows. A rainwater harvesting system above the screened porch reduces run-off, and there's even a recycling closest. 

The house seems solid (the agent slammed into the banister to exhibit its sturdiness) and offers yuppie amenities (see recycling closet). The bathroom cabinets are probably courtesy the good Swedes at IKEA. 

The ground level was designed as public space, with a beautiful slate tile foyer leading into a large living room where built-in bookshelves line the wall under the staircase. There's a half-bath off to the side. A doorway leads to a large eat-in kitchen with gas-range, built-in shelving, maple cabinetry, and Formica countertops. They wouldn't have been our first choice, given the hipper alternatives on market, but there they are.

To the side is a formal dining room, but it could also be transformed into a playroom or a home office. Towards the back a mudroom and the screened-in porch look out to a small grassy space bordered with flowers and a six-foot wooden privacy fence and a one-car garage beyond. 

Upstairs, three bedrooms and two bathrooms have been painted unusual colors: two light blue, the third lavender. The guest bath glows with tangerine-colored tiles, the master bath a vivid aqua. 

These bedrooms and bathrooms are off a long corridor (except for the aqua bathroom, which is included in the master suite), at the end of which an office nook has shelving above a seven-foot desk. This space won't be expansive enough for someone who needs a serious work area, but it's perfect for bill-paying and an inventive use of space.

The back door leads to the balcony which offers an eagle-eye view of the quiet street and the train tracks. It's a nice finishing touch, but it does feel like an add-on. For a more luxurious feel, we would have preferred to have the balcony connected to the master suite (with French doors, s'il vous plait). 

The most beautiful part of this comfortable and affordable home is the wooden flooring— maple downstairs and poplar above. That sounds like faint praise, but these boards are the most beautiful we've seen, lending the house a rich, textured feel. And if that's not enough, they were also purchased from Appalachian Sustainable Development, making them gorgeous and eco-friendly. (The trim was purchased from this company as well.) 

With the environmentally conscious features ubiquitous in the urban aesthetic of Charlottesville's young builders, you can come home to this house with a clean conscience– even if you did leave the lights on. 



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