Starr-y, Starr-y Hill: Grab a piece of the 'ville

ASKING: $258,000

SIZE: 1568 fin. sq. ft.

YEAR BUILT: 1925

ADDRESS: 208 Sixth Street NW

NEIGHBORHOOD: Starr Hill

CURB APPEAL: 6 out of a possible 10

LISTED BY: Bert Blikslager of Jos. T. Samuels, Inc. * 295-8540

The buzz surrounding the revitalization of Charlottesville's oldest neighborhoods keeps getting louder as projected development and all of its implications bulldoze on through. Starr Hill has become the latest recipient of a lot of attention recently as prospective homeowners scout every alley and byway for viable, affordable living space.

Its obvious convenience to both downtown and the university earns Starr Hill a gold star. Overlooked for many moons, it is now undergoing a major revamping.

In September 1997, the Piedmont Housing Alliance received $178,00 from Charlottesville City Council to restore two older homes and demolish two others. Rehabilitation consisted of gutting the interiors and installing new heating/cooling units, and electric and plumbing systems. The two houses on Sixth Street (of which this is one) were under contract before construction was finished. Both sold close to their listing prices of $85,000.

Reminiscent of established cities like D.C. and Baltimore, these self-contained houses offer everything an urban dweller could wish for: convenience, comfort, and individuality. Cheerfully painted in sunny yellows with the requisite front porch for stoop sitting, this house beckons with conviviality. The entrance hall separates the staircase on the right and a full bath down a little hallway, from the rest of the house to the left. "Tuscan bronze" paint in the living room provides the room with rustic Italianate ambience. The dining room follows, and then the kitchen, new but a tad utilitarian. A pantry room off the kitchen provides almost enough space for both storage and a stacked washer/dryer setup.

Upstairs, architectural sleight of hand seems to have been performed: Four bedrooms have somehow been configured to fit into a relatively small area. A recent addition off the back of the house adds a lot without being an eyesore to the neighbors. It consists of two rooms, one with a bunk bed, the other with a sectional sofa. A giant ladder affixed to one wall leads to a spacious loft. Almost like a treehouse, the loft now serves as a repository for all manner of boy debris from the four belonging to the current owners.

Three more bedrooms and a full bath, all of moderate size, but all with closets, round out the upstairs. More space but with less flow could induce a raging case of claustrophobia; here the lack of clutter makes the relatively small space seem ample. Walls have cut-out circular holes and faux windows that give an airiness to a space that otherwise would feel oppressive.

Downstairs, the back door off the kitchen leads out onto a little square back deck. In full view of neighbor houses and similar yards, it appears almost like one in a European community where dense housing has been the modus operandi for hundreds of years. Even though, at times, privacy must factor in, when one lives this way, one hopes neighbors will be respectful of each other. A six-foot wooden fence probably does help with private moments down on the grass, though.

All in all, for in-town living, this house has quite a bit. Neither restricted by space or overtly grand, it could still accommodate a wide range of living arrangements. Despite a lack of a grocery store nearby, one could easily exist here car-free and live off goodies from the West Main Market. Although the sticker price seems high, living here has too many downtown advantages to ignore.