Breathtaking: Greenleaf Terrace-- a Belmont wannabe?

ADDRESS: 1614 Oakleaf Lane

ASKING: $389,000

BUILDING: 2,738 fin. sq. ft., 104 unfin.

LAND: 0.28 acres


NEIGHBORHOOD: Greenleaf Terrace

CURB APPEAL: 7 of 10

LISTED BY: Roland Pittman 979-3411

People who still hyperventilate when they read about the unimaginable prices that little early-20th century working class farmhouses and cottages are fetching in Belmont should quickly turn the page. The owner of this bungalow in Greenleaf Terrace has set out to boost his neighborhood's prices to the dizzy Olympian heights of the rest of the city, and he has every expectation that he can succeed. If your eyes bugged out when your property tax bill arrived last year, just wait.

The bungalows in this Rugbyish suburb were built partly to accommodate the influx of soldiers coming to UVA on the GI Bill after World War II. As such, they represent the best and worst of the '40s and early '50s.

Plusses are the solid construction materials: roomy attics, hardwood floors, sturdy beams, plaster walls, good old steam heat from radiators, and manageable lot sizes big enough to allow a little gardening or landscaping, but not so large as to require intensive labor to keep them up.

To modern eyes, the downside of buildings in that era is obviously stylistic. Unlike new construction hereabouts, the places were built to be serviceable rather than design statements or status symbols. Rooms are tiny by today's standards, the kitchens cramped and utilitarian, most of the bedrooms boxy 8 x 10s or 12 x 15s, and the bathroom (most of the houses originally had only one) just big enough to turn around in. (That's a contrast to many Belmont rehabs, where indoor plumbing was not original, so bathrooms were created from large bedrooms.)

How on earth, you're wondering, can someone seriously put a price tag significantly higher than a quarter of a million dollars on such a place? The answer is: upgrades... and a fortuitous location.

Unlike most of the other houses in the neighborhood, this one perhaps thanks to its perch at the top of the rise where Oakleaf Lane, Delmar Drive, and Gentry Lane come together has two fireplaces, a large basement, a dining room, and imposing oak trees, one of which is so huge and so old that it may have been the inspiration for the street's name.

Over the years, owners particularly the present one have capitalized on those advantages. The walk-up attic has been remodeled into a large bedroom/sitting area suitable for children or a master suite, with plenty of storage and privacy. The original garageunusual in the neighborhood, perhaps the only one first became a rec room gussied up with an impressive raised fireplace made from stones hauled over Afton Mountain from Valley stream banks years ago. More recently, the large space was divided to create a master suite (the fourth bedroom in the house), comfy laundry area (with as much cabinet, shelf, and storage space as in many new houses), and second full bath.

Another rarity for the neighborhood and perhaps the best thing here after the great stone hearth downstairs is a new glassed-in sunroom and deck off the kitchen overlooking a metal-roof storage/garden shed in the back yard. The room comes by its name honestly, with French doors on three sides allowing lots of light, even on the overcast day we visited. This room also seems more typical of new places in Cory Farm or Kellytown.

New thermal-pane, vinyl-clad windows, gas furnace, and roof mean that the next owner won't have to do anything to this place for quite a while. Which, considering the asking price, is doubtless good news.

Recently, real estate watchers around town have been swearing that the market in Charlottesville has peaked. Let's think of Greenleaf Terrace as the canary in the coalmine. If this house sells for anything near $389,000, the word "peak" will take on a whole new meaning.