Road warrior: Sizing up potential in a tricky location near the 250 Bypass

Photo: Bill Storer Photo: Bill Storer

The first very important question for would-be buyers of 622 Watson Ave. is this: How much imagination do you have?

The question is key because the house, a 1930 foursquare, is ripe for a reno. It’s one of the older houses on the street, and in general it’s not the handsomest feller at the hoedown. Take the front porch, for example: The asphalt driveway terminates just a few feet from it; its ceiling has an intentional-but-puzzling slant, maybe 30 degrees or so; its posts are made of unfinished wood that seems out of place on this city dwelling.

These are the details that a design-minded person would immediately start to mentally renovate. Inside, there is plenty more such fodder. While solid, the house doesn’t have an abundance of original charm (apart from a few subtle things like doorknobs). And over the decades, it seems to have been treated to the kinds of updates—linoleum floors, odd carpeting, shortsighted laundry placement—that contribute to a downscale feel.

Let’s be clear: The house isn’t short on square footage, it’s just that the space could be carved up in a more functional, up-to-date way. Take the bedrooms. There are officially three, but one of those doubles as the access to a fourth room with uncertain function. Could these become a pleasant master suite of some kind? Perhaps a bedroom plus a large bathroom, dressing room or sitting room?

Other salient points about the structure: There is a downstairs den with built-in shelves and cabinets (and high windows that probably preclude use as an office). The full bathroom upstairs was renovated in the recent past, with a low-flow toilet, tan tile on the floor and tub surround and an okay sink vanity. And the stairwell is closed, but could perhaps be opened to become a focal point in the living room.

Know that there are no great views from this house, but there is a pleasant and spacious front yard (no backyard to speak of) with some valuable trees and a fairly new picket fence.

Now for the second very important question: How do you feel about noise?

Watson Avenue, if you’re not familiar, runs parallel to—and within spitting distance of—the 250 Bypass. Number 622 backs right up to the big road—closer than any other house on the block, since it’s sited almost on its rear property line —gaining little aural protection from the narrow band of bamboo and trees on the other side of the privacy fence.

For buyers craving peace and quiet, this might be a dealbreaker. Yet a look around the neighborhood suggests that the bypass noise could be the cover by which we shouldn’t judge the book.

This is not a downtrodden section of town. On the contrary, the houses here—even those that have a direct view of the bypass—are in most cases well loved and cared for. Yards are tidy, and there’s a general sense of well-being. Both houses immediately adjacent to 622, for example, show evidence of current or recent renovations, some of them rather nifty and modern. Right up the street is a Greek revival house with its own historic marker: Enderly, c. 1859, home of a Civil War-era clerk of the Virginia House of Delegates.

Northeast Park is a short walk away, and—oh yeah, that’s right!—so is Downtown Charlottesville. Which explains the price tag on this house, and the health of the neighborhood in general. You can hoof it over the bypass and be on your way to fine sushi, gelato or tagliatelle in no time.

Number 622 is, in fact, one of the houses most due for an update in the immediate area. Surely someone will be willing not only to overlook its disadvantages, but to exercise imagination in making it more of a star.

Property details

Address: 622 Watson Ave.

MLS#: 547234

Year built: 1930

Acreage: .32

Bedrooms: 3

Baths: 1.5

Square footage (finished): 1,822


Posted In:     Abode,Magazines


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