REAL ESTATE- ON THE BLOCK- Trend-setter? Over in 'JPAX,' less is more


ADDRESS: 124 Stribling Avenue


ASKING: $349,000

ASSESSMENT: $332,300


SIZE: 1,540 fin. sq. ft./ 433 unfin.

LAND:  0.27 acres

CURB APPEAL: 9 out of 10

AGENT:  Dora Conway, McLean Faulconer Inc., 295-1131

In the recent house-building boom, extra space was used to justify higher prices, much like the way some restaurants load plates with far more food than a person can— or should— eat. Although house-builders (as well as the visionary inventors of Sansabelt slacks) certainly profited from such strategies, efficiency is now back in style.

Most 3,000-square-foot houses contain just three or four bedrooms. This Dutch Colonial manages to fit three bedrooms— plus a nursery or office off the master bedroom— into the top story of its compact 1,540 square feet.

As the agent points out, though, nine-foot ceilings coupled with an abundance of windows create the impression of much more space. It feels prudent and efficient, like the land-reclaiming, vertically-building people of Holland for whom it is named.

Outside, a paved driveway leads to a detached garage, rare in houses of this era (and area). There's an ample deck off the dining room, and the deep backyard is both shaded and private. Inside, off the small living room, white French doors open to a bright reading/sunroom with built-in bookshelves and three walls of windows with vertical blinds to control the morning sun. This space seems designed to provide its solitary occupant a few moments' sanctuary from rowdy toddlers, pets, or visiting in-laws.

This house has about half the square footage of most new construction– models bearing pretentious names like "The Newton" or "The Scofield." Math being what it is, though, doubling square feet also doubles cubic feet, and far more electricity and gas are needed to cool and heat a bigger house. Let's call it Stribling's Law of Efficiency. 

Two tall maples in the front yard provide shade in summer and no doubt reduce the workload on the new two-zone AC system. Alas, the old windows won't help in the quest for lower utility bills, although storm windows add a layer of insulation. Replacing the windows might pay for itself in the long run.

Most appliances appear older. A kitchen upgrade might coax a quicker offer. Touring houses for sale, though, one often wonders if granite countertops and stainless steel appliances are installed only by folks preparing to sell. During the "Flip this House" era, did anyone upgrade a kitchen for the purpose of enjoying it?

Stribling Avenue, just across the railroad tracks from Fontaine and about half a mile south of Scott Stadium, is in UVA's back yard, a short bike or bus ride to the Grounds or Fontaine Research Park. While it lacks Belmont's trendiness, Fry's Spring can boast relatively inexpensive houses compared to other parts of the city.

Perhaps when Belmont's twentysomething DINKs (double-income no kids) become thirtysomething parents and need a little more space, they'll migrate southwest and end up here. Mas and La Taza may be hard to leave behind, but over here Wayside Fried Chicken and Hoo's Brew keep residents well fed and caffeinated. Thai, Italian, Mexican, and Chinese restaurants also hover around the JPA railroad bridge.

In our quest to anoint a new hip part of town, we notice "Fry's Spring" doesn't roll off the tongue quite as easily as "Belmont." How about JPA Extended, along which the number of student rentals decreases as the walk to UVA lengthens?

Will white oval bumper stickers bearing the letters "JPAX" someday adorn Charlottesville's Priuses and Outbacks? A neighborhood can dream, can't it?

Whatever the future holds for this area, "JPAX" has progressed naturally over the years, its organic growth resulting in one of its greatest strengths: diversity of house designs. With arts and crafts houses cozied up beside brick ranchers, which in turn are right next to colonials (American and Dutch alike), Stribling Avenue and its environs are great for a Sunday drive. 

Sure, "The Newton" is bigger, but in the case of 124 Stribling, less is more.



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