Green tile: Four Seasons a colorful option

ADDRESS: 29 Woodlake Drive

ASKING: $169,900

BUILDING: 1428 fin. sq. ft., 52 unfin.

LAND: est. 0.08 acres



CURB APPEAL: 5 of 10

LISTED BY: Mary Newton of Keller Williams, 466-6060, 220-2200

In the autumn, the variegated colors of the townhouses in Four Seasons seem to have been custom-painted to match nature's handiwork. Stained sidings of maroon and green echo the burnished leaves of the darkening dogwoods. Dark browns, tans, and muted grays blend naturally with tall cedars, pines, and other mature shrubbery lining this planned neighborhood that is itself aging gracefully.

Built in the 1970s by Daley Craig– father of Hunter and Sam Craig, whose own realty offspring include Western Ridge, Mill Creek, and Redfields– the Four Seasons townhouses are now maintained by the homeowners' association.

The three-bedroom, bath-and-a-half property is easy to locate along one of the first avenues of attached homes after the turn from Four Seasons Drive. It also happens to be one of the more fastidiously maintained properties of the 160 or so townhouses in the subdivision. (Four Seasons also offers patio homes and condominiums, managed separately.)

Compared to other available townhouses with the same floor plans, it's easy to see what TLC and a few upgrades can accomplish. The hardwood floors in the living and dining areas are immaculate. Ditto for the carpet on the stairs to the upper three bedrooms.

The kitchen is small enough to be cozy but big enough to handle a table and chairs– and a washer/dryer unit behind louvered doors. Kitchen cabinets and window treatments have all been updated recently enough that the house feels more contemporary than its origins. (The upstairs bathroom flooring, however, was intentionally left during a recent re-do because its intricate green 1970s patterning is already starting to look retro-cool.)

The agent explains the difference between a townhouse and a condominium: "In a condominium, you only own air. In a townhouse, you actually own dirt."

But paradoxically at Four Seasons, the rule for maintenance– according to the residents at 29 Woodlake– is "Everything on the outside is taken care of." That includes cable service, weekly garbage collection, periodic new staining on exterior siding, replacement roofing as needed, snow removal, and lawn mowing.

That's not a negligible benefit considering the good-sized greenbelts between some houses, perhaps because 30 years ago buildable space in Charlottesville and Albemarle County wasn't at such a premium.

All that ends up being quite a benefit, especially considering that HOA fees at Four Seasons are still less than $100 a month. "This could well represent the last of the affordable housing," the agent says.

The "dirt" that comes with this particular unit's front "yard" features some tidy boxwood shrubs, iris, miniature roses, and a brick walkway. Like its neighbors, rear access to the home includes two (uncovered) parking spots. From there, a gated entrance between two wooden storage units leads to a concrete patio with privacy fencing and latticed-trained greenery, with even more plantings and a shade tree.

The current owners replaced a sliding glass door unit with a wood-framed one that enhances both the patio and adjoining living room.

Speaking of sheds and storage, there's plenty more of the latter inside. There's pull-down access to a floored attic space with lighting and ventilation, plus an under-the-stairs closet. The bedrooms all have wide closet spaces behind folding doors, and the master bedroom sports a second one with heavy mirrored panels that reflect natural light from a sliding screen/glass door combination on the opposite wall. This upper-story door opens onto to a narrow balcony just big enough for a healthy row of potted plants, or to serve as a vantage point for hollering "Yoo-hoo!" to Romeos at the front door.

The County's 2003 assessed value for the property is just under $100,000, up considerably from this unit's 1998 selling price of $68,000, but well-under the $137,000-$155,000 range the agent declares other Four Seasons' townhouses have sold for recently.

The reason for the asking price bump on this one isn't something a website photo will reveal-­ you've gotta peek inside. But a visit would also demonstrate how this neighborhood of owner-occupied and rental homes is a mere 15 minutes from downtown and practically within shouting distance from U.S. 29 in one direction and West Rio Road in the other. For some folks, that just might be the right location, location, location.