REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- <i>Pied a terre</i>: Walk everywhere from McGuffey condo


Address: 309 2nd St. #211C

Neighborhood: North Downtown

Asking: $407,000

Assessment: $338,800

Year Built: 1981

Size: 1,193 fin. sq. ft.

Agent: Gracie Haines, Real Estate III 434-953-8183

Curb Appeal: 7 out of 10

"In a normal market, these condos would just fly," the agent for this property says, wistfully remembering pre-recession days. This upper-level unit in McGuffey Hill just came on the market this month, and the owner is anticipating an early sale. Maybe that's why the place is priced at $407,000. 

At $341.16/sq. ft., the 1981 condo isn't cheap– but no one moves to North Downtown for real estate discounts. 

Buyers here are paying for location. The walkable urban lifestyle is the big draw, as well as easy access to great take-out, and no parking worries when you have tickets to The Jefferson. Haines notes that the complex mainly attracts young professionals and retirees: "lots of artists and creative types." 

The two-bedroom, two-bath condo has an easy, airy feel. Since the community is tucked behind the McGuffey Art Center, it feels removed from city bustle– but US-250 traffic is still audible. 

An outdoor staircase leads to the front door of the two-level unit, so it's not the best fit for those with accessibility concerns. But the height does give the condo lots of leafy green views. Birch trees and a Japanese maple are visible from the living room, which has sliding glass doors leading to the main-level deck. 

The laminate floors and wall paint (pleasant neutrals) were just done in March; and the owners had a new HVAC system installed in 2008. Other parts of the place have not been recently updated. With linoleum flooring and toffee-colored showers and toilets, the bathrooms are serviceable, but they're not the aesthetically pleasing, body-cleansing temples you might expect in a high-end condo. 

The kitchen makes the most of its limited counter space with an island facing the living room. Walls on either side house storage cabinets and a pass-though so hosts can talk to guests as they're putting the finishing touches on dinner. The appliances, which all convey, were in place when the current owners purchased the condo for $215,000 in 2003. 

The first floor is finished off by a large back bedroom featuring cherry-stained built-in cabinets and bookshelves and a large skylight–  an ideal office for folks who work more than they entertain.

Carpeting begins on the staircase leading to the master suite, with a large bedroom, full bath, and sliding glass doors leading to a private deck. Since there's no storage in the complex, designers thoughtfully installed large closets in the foyer, the guest bedroom, and across the back wall of the master bedroom. One of the closets here houses the washer and dryer, which also convey. 

The 1981 construction date may explain why the condo perks are basic—don't move in expecting a pool, gym, or movie theater. The $1,000 quarterly condo fees include snow and trash removal, water and sewer bills, professional management, and maintenance and insurance on the property's exterior. (The stairs leading to this unit's front door are being redone this summer.) Parking is also included– each condo is assigned one spot; owners with second vehicles are invited to park in another section.

The current owners use the condo as a second home, but if you're looking at purchasing an investment property, the McGuffey Hill Homeowners Association does allow seven of the units to be rented at any given time. (Five are currently rented, at an average of $1,600 per month.) 

Otherwise, it's a cool and convenient crash pad for those looking for an urban lifestyle without fuss or pretense. 



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