People who live in the town of Scottsville enjoy a community that is diverse, thriving and very scenic. Home of Albemarle’s first county seat, Scottsville is located on a bend of the James River at the intersection of Routes 20 and 6 where the three counties of Albemarle, Fluvanna and Buckingham come together. Though set in the midst of a rich agricultural area, Scottsville is part of the Charlottesville SMSA and offers an easy commute to jobs and amenities there, including the soon to open 5th Street Station on the city’s south side. The town is proud of its rich heritage including a downtown with 153 nationally recognized, historically significant buildings.
Scottsville’s location on the James River made it an important commercial center in the early 1700s when the most efficient way to move goods between major centers was via water. The Kanawha Canal that ran alongside the river added to Scottsville’s early prominence. The town was also a drop-off point for agricultural goods moving between Staunton and Richmond making it one of the largest grain markets in the state and home to many wealthy families.
Scottsville served as Albemarle’s County seat until 1761 when it lost that distinction to Charlottesville. It did play a role during the Revolutionary War when the old municipal courthouse was converted to an ammunition storehouse, but by the late 1800’s when river traffic gave way to rail, Scottsville lost what remained of its prominence.
For the next eighty plus years downtown Scottsville suffered from frequent flooding due to its proximity to the James River and many business owners chose to move out leaving boarded up buildings behind.
It wasn’t until the 1980s that the town gained new life. At that time Federal money helped build a levee for flood protection making it possible for businesses to again locate downtown without fear of being flooded out. The completion of a streetscape project in 2013 added a much needed facelift that transformed the downtown area into an even more inviting and attractive place for both customers and prospective businesses.
Today there are many new businesses in downtown Scottsville making it, once again, a vibrant place to live and work, thanks also to a growing list of amenities including proximity to Charlottesville and a quiet country lifestyle offering outdoor activities, restaurants, historic preservation and community based activities.
The other good news is Scottsville’s improving real estate market that offers a range of options for first time buyers as well as those looking for special properties like historic homes, farms and estates, a river view or the perfect piece of land for a new home.
Scottsville’s Real Estate Market
With its wide range of prices and options, from starter homes to million dollar plus properties, homebuyers have much to choose from in Scottsville.
Scottsville is the “southern anchor of Albemarle County,” said John Ince with Nest Realty Group. Those “looking for a farm or estate will find some of the finest period homes and richest land in Virginia’s Piedmont there. It’s also a great place to find an affordable home in town or on a couple of acres.” He went on describe the allure of local river properties, including one that sold for $1.8 million, stating that the river was “the major part of its ambiance.”
“I would characterize the Scottsville market as steady,” said Kevin Quick, Associate Broker with RE/MAX Realty Specialists. He added that our local Multiple Listing Service reflects “stable transfers for the last three years with median sales prices continuing on an upward trend,” a trend Quick expects will continue.
He also explained that home prices range from the low $100,000s all the way up to as much as $5 million for large estates meaning there is something for everyone including first time buyers. “We are currently seeing the most activity in the upper $100,000 to lower $200,000 price range,” Quick said.
“The market trends for homes in Scottsville show the median listing price has increased from $256,000 in 2013 to $308,000 as of July 2016,” said Angie Woodson with Better Homes and Gardens, Real Estate III. “It is a good time to buy in Scottsville as the home appreciation is up 1.6 percent in the past 12 months,” she continued.
Scott Ward with A. Scott Ward Realty, Inc., the oldest locally owned real estate company in Scottsville, stated that homes are “selling at a brisker pace,” and that is true for all three of Scottsville’s counties. Albemarle, with its easier commute to Charlottesville, is doing the best, but all three are all doing well and he expressed enthusiasm about the market there.
Scottsville’s location at the intersection of three counties is unique in offering extra options to buyers. Each county has its own school system and lifestyle that has something special and different from the others. Albemarle is closer to Charlottesville and has more jobs, but Buckingham offers better prices on homes along with lower taxes. Prices are higher in Fluvanna, which may mean smaller lot sizes that nevertheless appeal to people who like living close to their neighbors.
A Friendly and Welcoming Place
Ward described Scottsville as a “great little town, friendly and welcoming,” where it is easy to get to know people and which is very different from what he called “the hustle and bustle” of living in an urban area.
Many of his clients are retirees and enjoy being out of cities where they can enjoy more green areas. For example, he recently worked with a woman from California who fell in love with all the green after living for years in the desert. “They also appreciate that we are close to Charlottesville with all of its social and cultural amenities,” Ward said.
Larry Barnett another prominent local agent works out of the Old Ivy office of Long and Foster Real Estate. Like many people who relocate to Scottsville he and his wife were frequent visitors who decided they would rather be there full time. He described the town as a place with a “wonderful mix of people from all walks of life.” Neither of them has had any regrets about the move although small town life was new for both of them.
Ince described Scottsville as a “very real slice of Americana right in our own back yard.” He added that in many ways it is the best of two worlds offering “home town character with cosmopolitan Charlottesville just 25 miles north.”
Outdoor Activities Bring Visitors to Scottsville
Outdoor activities attract many of Scottsville’s visitors and encourage them to stay. For example, “James River Reeling and Rafting provides all the equipment you would need for an awesome day on the James River,” Woodson said.
The James River Batteau Festival, celebrated every year in June, is another river event that draws visitors to Scottsville. Batteaux are flat bottomed boats that regularly stopped in Scottsville hauling both people and goods when water was a common form of transportation. Participants in the annual festival are volunteers who build their own batteaux and recreate part of this journey. And of course they dress in period costumes for the event.
A real plus for Scottsville residents and visitors who like hiking and fishing is the Van Clief natural area, a 63-acre park right in town. Its highlight, Scottsville Lake, is stocked with trout by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and open to the public. Future planned additions to this natural area include hike and bike trails, a dock and picnic areas.
Art, Restaurants, Music and Fun
Although Charlottesville’s amenities are a big plus, Scottsville is in many respects self-contained. Residents will find most of what they need there including a major grocery store, medical care, restaurants, and recreational activities.
Do you enjoy art and music? Ward recommends Scottsville’s Second Saturday, a monthly event that features local artists as part of a fun, family-friendly day where attendees relax and enjoy music and good food. While you’re there enjoy the James River Brewery which he said is “up and running,” having won several awards for their brews in 2015.
Woodson recommends Tavern on the James, which she calls “an amazing restaurant that is booming. They do a lot of advertising and have great food and atmosphere.” One special event there is called Party on the Patio with live music every Thursday evening. Ward— who is the featured performer—calls it a fun event where he enjoys the “rednecks in Hawaiian shirts.”
Local residents are also proud of the Scottsville Center for Arts and Nature whose tag line is “where nature sparks creativity.” Some of its many programs include a Monthly Music Jam open to all ages and levels of experience, a gallery, and classes in art, music and ballet.
For those who want a place to read, talk or just hang out, Scottsville has its own coffee and book store, Baines Books and Coffee, an Appomattox based business that opened a second location in Scottsville not too long ago. Ward described it as “a great place to catch up with the local gossip.”
Who’s Moving to Scottsville
Scottsville is attractive to young families who want space and a back yard big enough for a garden. They also like the resources available for children. “Scottsville Elementary School was recognized in 2015 for being one of the top ten elementary schools in the Commonwealth, which is a testament to the teachers and leadership,” Quick said.
Families also like the James River club, a chapter of the Boys and Girls club of Central Virginia offering after school and summer activities for local children. “The Boys and Girls Club is really rocking,” Ward said. He added that it fills a real need for after school care and summer activities for working families enhancing the quality of life there.
The recently opened All God’s Children Child Development Center is another resource “helping to fill a gap in child care services for the area,” Quick said.
Peter Lee, with Roy Wheeler Realty said the area also attracts young professionals who like the feel of the town and the older buildings. “It is especially appealing to people who don’t have to commute such as people who have a home based business or who are retired.” he added.
“Scottsville offers something for every age. First time buyers can find the attractive pricing they seek and professionals will find a short commute to work,” Woodson said, adding that they come “from all over,” although many are local.
Back in December Ward sold three homes to first timers, a group he enjoys working with. All three were local couples, including one who moved from Charlottesville after marrying a Scottsville native.
If living in a diverse and thriving community close to Charlottesville appeals to you, ask your agent about Scottsville. Chances are good you will find just what you are looking for in this nearby community that has much to offer visitors and residents of all ages and interests.
Celeste Smucker is a writer, and blogger who lives near Charlottesville.