Snuggery: Joining the current condo craze

ADDRESS: 382 South Pantops Drive


ASKING: $184,000



SIZE: 1,251 fin. sq. ft.

LAND: 0.0 acres

CURB APPEAL: 8 out of 10


LISTED BY: Donna Patton Real Estate III 589-0777

Condominiums are all the rage these days. The former Hessian Hills apartments have been converted and are selling like hotcakes– well, no– faster than hotcakes– they're selling like all the other real estate around here. The Carriage Hill apartments on Pantops are being advertised in TV ads as "rent to own" condos. Speculation simmers about which apartment complex with sagging tenant numbers will be the next to draw up the Declaration of Condominium.

This complex across the road from Carriage Hill (and next to State Farm Insurance) did not have to change its stripes, having been a condominium from the get-go back in 1985. The location is evidence of its longevity– nestled in a grove of trees a little below a low bank, it's almost invisible to passersby.

This particular two-bedroom, two-bath end unit with windows on two sides benefits from its location at the upper end of the complex. It's one of the closest units to the woods, and standing on the private deck off the master bedroom, you feel like you're in the country. The other bedroom also has a private deck, and both decks have storage rooms attached.

Inside, the average-size living room has a gas fireplace with tile surround and mantel (apparently a rarity in these units). A large window unfortunately looks over the parking lot, but the compensation is that the dining room juts out from the fa├žade to provide a side view to the woods– and snag extra light.

The kitchen, in the middle of the condo, opens to the entry hall as well as the dining room, providing a much-needed sense of flow in a space that might otherwise feel cramped and claustrophobic. New countertop and oak cabinets perk the place up, as does a sprinkle of ivy-patterned wallpaper around the sink and electric stove.

On the opposite wall, the washer/dryer and a pantry are tucked behind louvered doors with the hot water heater and other utilities– convenient but unobtrusive. The vinyl floor covering looks new.

Also new at the whole complex are the roof, gutters, and exterior paint. In addition, the pool was recently refurbished, all good news for monthly-fee payers ($208 for this unit). The day we visited, landscapers were busy mowing, another nice condo perk included in the fee. Only heat and phone are additional financial responsibilities of each tenant.

Ceiling fans in every room keep air moving, a benefit in the smaller second bedroom with only one window (over the parking lot, alas)– but with its own private bath and the private balcony. Fuzzy carpeting throughout looks newish.

We always fantasize about imaginary buyers for places we review in On the Block. This place seems ideal for a single person– perhaps a State Farm employee who wants to be able to walk to work?– or at most a mother and small child. While two people live here now, somehow the quarters seem a little close– even with the private balconies for escape. One person would find it just big enough, using the second bedroom as a guest room or office.

Given the current condo craze, it's probably safe to say almost any unit will go quickly. People jumping on the bandwagon who want new and unsullied spaces have lots to choose from. Folks looking for a snug cocoon with the convenience of no maintenance– but who also want privacy and tranquility– will do well to consider this low-key option on the mountain.