Do-nut overlook! Belmont cottage offers spudnuts and <I>mas

ADDRESS: 330 Monticello Road

ASKING: $319,000

BUILDING: 1,506 fin. sq. ft.

LAND: 0.15 acres



CURB APPEAL: 6 out of 10

LISTED BY: Bob Hughes, Summit Realty Company, 980-4534

Charlottesville's early Internet address was the aptly named, a nod to one of the major access roads to the city from I-64. But don't get either one mixed up with Monticello Road, which most confusingly parallels its namesake avenue's course up a hill and down to the city center through the neighborhood called Belmont.

A large billboard used to greet commuters leaving town on Avon Street: "If you lived in Belmont, you'd be home now!" The billboard's long gone, but the sassy taunt's more biting than ever these days when their downtown proximity makes the neighborhood's bungalows and simple turn-of-the-century homes some of the hottest properties in the city.

This week's offering is a modest three-bedroom, bath-and-a-half house perched above the one-way portion of Monticello Road east of Avon Street. Despite its rather ordinary facade and teeny lot– and the steep concrete steps you have to scale to get there– it's likely to appeal to people with affection for sidewalks that actually go someplace.

On a lazy Saturday morning, leave the bright blue painted front porch and take a left, and you're ready for a breakfast of some fine Charlottesville doughnuts (made from potato flour at the venerable Spudnuts). Go the other direction, and you'll find the morning paper and other key commodities at the Belmont Market or Gibson's grocery on Hinton Avenue around the corner.

Back home for a nap, and then it's time for dinner. You're in luck: the hip Spanish tapas bar, Mas, is almost in sight just a little way down your road, at number 501.

For stay-at-home sorts, this house meets all the basic requirements for cozy living. A small living room with an adjoining formal dining area mean in-home entertaining is easy. The kitchen– with unpainted cabinets, vinyl floor, a miniature dishwasher, and dark green Formica counters– is nevertheless big enough to chat up your dinner guests while you wait for the pasta to boil.

Parties seem to have been frequent here in the past: someone was inspired to sponge-paint the walls a golden color and paint the light fixture over the stainless steel sink with purple eggplants. Imagine what creative goodies were cooked up on the gas stove!

Grey asbestos siding, new windows and gutters, and newly painted soffits mean the outdoor upkeep, if not especially stylish, is at least under control. Gas forced-air heat and central air manage the indoor temperatures, while two narrow mantels downstairs hint at an earlier era when gas heaters did the job. Tall windows, high ceilings, and hardwood floors throughout also date the structure without compromising comfort.

A real plus for this older home is a remodeled back porch that now functions as a pleasant sunroom with multiple windows and skylights adding charm to the adjacent kitchen and dining room. A stacked washer/dryer unit hides there too, behind louvered doors.

Windows in two of the three upstairs bedrooms provide a winter peek at the Blue Ridge, while the third room– more office-sized at about 8 x 10'–offers two large closets, one functionally outfitted with shelves and the other with double hanging rods. Storage could become an issue here for a family, given the attic space doesn't even offer pull-down stairs and the front foyer closet is filled with the furnace. But an outside storage shed and a grandma style pantry behind a curtain in the kitchen help out.

Stashing vehicles doesn't look too bad, either, for a city address, as access to the rear entrance of the house and its neighbors is available via a partly paved, partly dirt-and-gravel alleyway off Rialto Street. It looks like one or two cars could fit here– it would be tight– freeing up on-street parking for guests.

An active first week's roster of realtor visits (the house was just listed on February 3) already indicates interest. But with a couple of Mercedes snuggled up to the curb, and remodeling projects under way at various addresses up and down the road, it's hardly a surprise to see that this part of town, with its mixture of cats and kids (Clark Elementary School is walking distance), small corner groceries and big front porches, offers the promise of neighborhood renewal despite– or perhaps because of– some of its old-fashioned attributes.