Green-light district: Summit's condos ready by January

ADDRESS: 820 E. High St., Apts. 1, 2, 5 & 11

ASKING: $ 180,500, $150,500, $213,000 & $339,000

BUILDING: 656, 537, 789 & 1,255 sq. ft.

LAND: 0.0 acres


NEIGHBORHOOD: Downtown Charlottesville

CURB APPEAL: 7 out of 10

LISTED BY: Carolyn Shears, Summit Realty 817-4040, 760-2395

Talk about the ambience of urban living. Just how cool would it be to have the glow of a traffic light reflecting into your living room every night? Okay, maybe that's not so great.

But what if you could gloat about not having to stop for it because you walk to work in downtown Charlottesville or one of the many medical offices scattered about the Martha Jefferson neighborhood?

Three of the four condominiums still for sale and nearing completion at 820 E. High St. have sumptuous window views of western sunsets, Park Street church steeples, and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Situated at tree-top level, they also overlook "Tarleton's Oak," its namesake gas station, and the traffic light at the intersection of Jefferson and East High.

This flat-topped seafoam green and ivory structure has been steadily rising over the remains of its squat brick base– formerly the Tarleton Medical Building– for more than a year. As the first project to be approved by Charlottesville's officials under the mixed-use-friendly zoning ordinance implemented last September, it offers two commercial and 14 residential units.

Fittingly enough, the builders and designers of the newly named "Eight 20 Condominiums" plan to move in downstairs. Summit Realty and Bushman Dreyfus Architects will occupy the ground floor offices, while a dedicated elevator and two secure-access staircases lead from a rear parking lot to the one- and two-bedroom apartments above.

The agents hoped to use one of the east-facing units as a model before they started actively marketing the properties in August, but since that unit (with its great sunrise views) was one of the first reserved, and 10 of the 14 were spoken for in less than three months' time, they aren't worrying about a model anymore.

Even uncompleted, the design extras in this distinctively different apartment building must be speaking for themselves. For starters, every unit is unique. Some have big balconies, some have teeny terraces. Some have doors on the bedrooms, some don't.

What? No bedroom doors? The agent explains that the architect wanted a "very urban and very open and flowing look."

The open look is enhanced in all the units by 10-foot ceilings, all white walls, and multi-positional pleated white window blinds for the many large windows. Other standard features include light blonde bamboo flooring, wiring for Internet and digital TV, sprinklers, and a single deeded parking space for each unit. (Additional spots can be leased for a monthly fee.)

Kitchen appliances are included, along with full-sized washer and dryer units. Two extra-price modifications are possible: Standard white appliances can be upgraded to stainless steel or black, and fancier kitchen countertops like granite or Corian are an option. Homeowner's Association dues will vary according to the unit size, but are expected to range between $90 and $170 monthly.

With completion of the units due any day and state approval of all condominium documents pending, the agent anticipates move-in dates in early 2005.

Of the four remaining units, there are some distinctions of note: No. 11 is the only two-bedroom unit still available, and the only one left on the uppermost third floor; it's the largest of the 14 units and correspondingly the most expensive. No.1 is the only unit without a balcony or terrace, but it's on a corner, with views to the west and north. No. 2 is the smallest of the 14, thus the least expensive. No. 5 is also a corner unit– with possibly the best view of the traffic light.

It's hard to gauge what kind of changes this neighborhood will undergo once Martha Jefferson moves to Pantops, but for now the emergency room is within walking distance, and all those ambulances are still coming and going, providing even more urban charm.