Easy riders: Convenient condos curb commute

ADDRESS: 1105-W Druid Avenue

ASKING: $ 239,500

BUILDING: 1787 fin. sq. ft, 284 sq. ft. unfin. (garage)

LAND: 0.0 acres



CURB APPEAL: 6 of 10

LISTED BY: Tommy Brannock, Real Estate III, 977-3033, 981-1486

No so long ago, Charlottesville didn't have much of a rush hour. Sure, certain streets bustled, lines of cars bunched up on Friday afternoons, and Route 29 North– even before extra lanes were added and the lights synchronized– could be counted on to produce what big city dwellers might have called traffic. Generally speaking, though, our town was easy on commuters.

Sadly, that can no longer be said of morning and evening traffic patterns hereabouts. Getting to work or home via 29 north or Pantops can be an over 40-minute ordeal. But there's a new housing development just off Route 20 that offers a quick get-home option for folks whose 9-to-5 destination takes them south on Route 53, or along I-64.

The developers of the new Druid Hill Residences fronting the sloping crest of Monticello Avenue may not have had such commuters in mind when they finagled this plum perch. But it's easy to imagine how a typical morning routine might unfold from these 18 highly visible condominiums.

Suppose a husband and wife share the master bedroom, one of two in the floor plan of 1105-W. After waking, they pad across the berber carpet to check the weather by simply gazing out the picture window at the looming profile of Brown's Mountain. (The other bedroom's view takes in most of Pantops Mountain.) No fighting over sinks and showers at this address: it's a three-and-a-half bath home. Their room offers a walk-in closet, too, for keeping their business suits orderly.

While hubby heads upstairs to the top floor (these tall and narrow residences have four separate levels) to check email in his "attic" office– a generous space illuminated by double skylights– his wife heads down one level to grab lunch from the refrigerator, conveniently supplied by the developer (the fridge, not her lunch).

Down one more flight of stairs she's ready to work on her computer in the lower den/office, after first throwing some laundry into the adjacent washer and dryer (the new appliances all convey). It's a tight little utility room, with a gas furnace too, but they don't mind because it created space for the single-car garage and its automatic door opener. No scraping icy windshields this winter!

Before backing out, they switch on the home security system– as a nice plus, the first year's service is paid for by the developers. A quick stop at the nearby gas-n-go for coffee, morning papers, and road snacks, and before they know it, with nary a traffic light to hinder them, they're both on their way to Richmond.

Or Waynesboro. Or Harrisonburg. Reverse the trip for the evening commute, and the happy couple are soon toasting tired tootsies before the gas-log fireplace in the living room. (The Druid Hill condos all feature gas cooking and heat, the latter using a two-zone system for the four floors.)

This unit has the same floor plan as other interior units in the two blocks of nine condos; the four slightly larger end units are different. When Westwood Associates LC, put the first of the houses on the block in late 2003, the going rates were $199,500 for end units and $189,500 for the middle units. Twelve months later, this one is the only new one unsold, though another address (1105-R) is up for resale at $242,500. A neighboring end unit (1105-Z) recently sold for $252,500. "W"– as the last of the originals– is 80 percent complete, by the agent's estimate, with remaining installations to be completed before closing.

The bathrooms here already have ceramic tile floors laid and all interior walls painted a creamy ivory, with white crown molding and chair rail in the dining room. Appliances, carpet, hardwood oak flooring, and other finishing details (such as floor-level illuminator lights along the many flights of stairs) are yet to come. More landscaping for the entire development is due soon, too, with the goal of shielding some unsightly gas meters at the foot of each set of front porch steps.

In the meantime, "King Alfred & His Court," three large yellow metal daffodils, a former Art in Place sculpture now owned by the city, are front yard decorations that greet the steady stream of cars commuting to and from Charlottesville's own bustling city center.