REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- Paradox: Appealing new house in old neighborhood

Address: 222 5th Street SW

Neighborhood: Fife Estate

Asking: $379,000

Assessment: $235,900

Year Built: 2007

Size: 1,290 fin sq. ft., 146 unfin.

Land: 0.12 acres

Agent: Roger Voisinet 434-974-1500, RE/MAX Realty Specialists

Curb Appeal: 7 out of 10

In this neighborhood, buyers looking for something other than a house in a subdivision will find a mix of older houses with a smattering of newer construction. Here, some houses are on the other side of the tracks (rundown), and the Piedmont Housing Alliance also has some construction nearby. This neighborhood lies near the train station, just two blocks down from Main Street and close to restaurants, the Main Street Market, and the Downtown Mall. 

The place might seem to some more like a condo or townhoouse than a detached single-family residence. Compact living, little storage (no attic or basement), and the contemporary layout contribute to that feel. 

The house sits on a narrow lot between two older houses. Here, it's basically just street parking for all, although an easement provides parking in a gravel drive off Dice Street directly behind the house. A stone pathway leads up to the deck, an important touch since new owners will likely use this as the primary entrance.

Architect Bob Anderson looked up for space and designed the house with high ceilings. Some windows with very deep sills create functional focal points throughout, slightly offsetting the narrowness of the space. 

The first thing buyers will notice is the front porch with built-in seating. We don't see many porches in new construction, and it suits the older neighborhood. From the front door, a hall offers entry to a large open space (another thing some newer houses lack). A soapstone gas fireplace warms up the living area, which flows into the kitchen and dining areas. 

Stainless appliances, Corian counters, and cherry cabinets in the kitchen feel current but not too taste-specific. Two sets of tall French doors emphasize the height of the ceilings and work to frame the view of the yard with a low deck of compressed fiberboard. 

The architect chose to use sustainable building options such as low-VOC paints and recycled lumber for the flooring. Energy Star appliances, Pella windows, and a high-efficiency heat pump keep utility bills low. Outside, the yard has been landscaped using native plants.

Upstairs, two sunny bedrooms have the same high ceilings as below, and there's a bath off the hall and a stacked front-loading washer/dryer unit hidden behind closet doors.

The master is airy, and the master bath is accessed through a custom closet. With a standup shower and single sink, it's roomy but not as large as many contemporary buyers may expect. An unusual little space, sort of a crow's nest, overlooks the hall. It's a fun space that may work well as a reading nook or stamp-sized home office.

In lieu of a basement, the heat pump and other systems are situated in a crawlspace accessed by a locked exterior door. Out back, a large shed matches the style of the house with a deck of the same compressed fiberboard. The shed has shelving and hooks for corralling the clutter. 

Green stylings and the location make this house attractive for young professionals looking for a home with an easy commute to both work and play. They will pay for location and style, but not for square footage. Depending on space needs, it may be a fair compromise where the buyer will have the benefits of new construction in an established urban neighborhood.



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