REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- Looking closely: A condo for classy seniors

ADDRESS: 1187 Partridge Lane

ASKING: $279,900

SIZE: 1,833 fin. sq. ft.



CURB APPEAL: 7 out of a possible 10

LISTED BY: Barbara Seidler of Colonnade Realty 951-7360

If you had to go find your glasses before you could read this column, you're the kind of person who will want to take a look (sans glasses) at this classy condominium in Branchlands Retirement Village. If you had to go get your glasses, but the words "Branchlands Retirement Village" make you squirm, stop reading now.

This little enclave down behind the Senior Center has an interesting history. The place was developed on the lands of a real house, Branchlands, built sometime between 1818 and 1865 (sources are murky) on the highest point of a property consisting of more than a thousand acres.

Today, after a twisting history including a foreclosure auction and an incarnation as a Catholic school and nunnery, the "manor house" is the focal point of the community of apartments, townhouses, and condominiums that make up Branchlands.

One of those condominiums, this property is on the market at the best possible time. Outside the front windows– in the living room a large bay window– a Bradford pear and a cherry tree are putting on a glorious display around a nicely landscaped, if tiny, patio.

Inside, rosy paint echoes the blooms, and a tall column dividing the entrance area from the living room mirrors columns framing the intimate front sitting porch. Ten-foot ceilings contribute to a much-needed illusion of space, and ample lighting helps overcome the twinge of claustrophobia resulting from the fact that this is a completely contained interior unit with no side or back windows.

A serviceable kitchen spans the rear of the large living room/dining area, and provides a pass-through to the master suite consisting of a big bedroom, full bath (alas, one of those dreadful fiberglass tub surround things mars the otherwise pleasant enough decor), and lots of storage, including under-the-stairs space.

Upstairs is a copy of down, and so an active oldster could save the first-level master suite for company and retire up here for privacy. The space over the living room has been left just as open (although it has carpeting instead of the parquet of the first floor), another wise decision to counter the closed-in feeling.

Just what this large second-floor "living room" might be used for is unclear. It's too big to be a study, and probably an older single person or couple would have little use for a "family room" in the typical sense of "gathering place for the gang."

The bedroom on this level is augmented by a large sunroom with a view to the trees and beyond over an attractive copper roof, a real plus for this unit. Condominiums on the opposite side of the street have views only of this place and several more just like it. Up here there's more storage. Every room has a center ceiling fan if the central air isn't enough.

Condo fees run $584 per quarter, but they include everything a typical resident would want to have taken care of by someone else: trash collection, mowing, snow removal, insurance, and fixing the gas furnace when it breaks. The "village" offers a walking trail, a lake, and picnic areas, and there's a reserved parking space in front of the house– but no garage.

The agent reports that places in Branchlands are selling like hotcakes, which seems to indicate that this is the sort of set-up upscale oldsters are looking for when the children are gone and it's time for the big house to go. While this unit, even with its 1,800 square feet of space, might be a little too cozy for a couple, it seems just right for a single active older person who wants convenience and quality without fuss.

And the upside of the snugness is that there are only so many places you have to look for those darn glasses.