Real Estate Chart
In preparing this issue's look at the region's real estate market, we examined the data from our annually updated chart of real-estate values in 120 neighborhoods to determine which ones, in our opinion, are offering the ideal combination of healthy prices, robust sales numbers and quick movement from "for sale" to "sold." Our picks for 12 hot neighborhoods in the city of Richmond and the counties of Hanover, Henrico and Chesterfield can be found below. And even if your neighborhood didn't make our hot list, Richmond Association of Realtors president Laura Lafayette still has some good news for sellers in the region: "Homes on average are taking about two to two-and-a-half weeks less time to sell than a year ago."
The first planned community in Henrico County, Raintree, which opened in 1972, comprises about 1,100 single-family homes and town homes in a wooded, parklike setting with 105 acres of common land.
"When they built Raintree, it's unique in the fact that the builders did not come in and clear-cut everything. It's largely a wooded area," says resident Jane Malone, administrator of the Raintree Homeowners Association.
"It has a natural look and feel," agrees association president Don Smith, a retired COO of WheatFirst Securities. "It's not just a subdivision. It has a feel like a park."
Situated beside bucolic Gregory's Pond, a popular fishing destination, the community has six winding walking trails that run over bridges across Deep Run Creek. Another plus for many residents is the adjoining private Raintree Swim & Racquet Club, which features a six-lane, Olympic-size swimming pool, indoor and outdoor tennis courts, and a fitness center. Raintree is also located near Henrico's Deep Run Park, which is situated off Ridgefield Parkway, one of the main entrance roads into the community.
Schools serving Raintree are Pemberton Elementary (even though Pinchbeck Elementary is closer), Byrd Middle and Godwin High. Homes range from $250,000 to $450,000. Located between Gayton Road and Ridgefield Parkway, Raintree is convenient to Short Pump and close to the intersection of Interstate 64 and Gaskins Road. Neighbors buy groceries at nearby Gayton Crossing Shopping Center, which has a Kroger and a Martin's, as well as popular eateries such as Chianti Italian Restaurant, Eurasia Café and Wine Bar, and The Melting Pot. —Richard Foster
Filled with towering trees, parks and a plethora of biking/walking trails, Brandermill opened in 1974 as one of the first planned communities in Virginia. Four years later, it snagged the "Best Planned Community in America" award from Better Homes & Gardens. Catering to all age groups, from young families to retirees, its housing prices range from $150,000 to more than $800,000.
Amenities in the 38-year-old Chesterfield neighborhood include 15 miles of walking paths, three pools and six parks/playground areas. The member-owned Midlothian Tennis Club can be found here, as well as Brandermill Country Club, with a pool, a golf course and a fitness center. But the biggest draw may be Swift Creek Reservoir. Members of the Brandermill Community Association have access to the reservoir, which has a marina and boat rental program; fishing is also allowed, either from the shoreline or off a boat; and the Brandermill Sailing Club holds regattas from April through October. Finally, the Boathouse Restaurant at Sunday Park boasts stellar views along the reservoir.
Dianne Cardea, a resident for 34 years, enjoys her community's accessibility to the Richmond area. "Everything is pretty much at our doorstep," she says, adding that she's a fan of the Brandermill Green Market at the Market Square shopping center. "We have a huge turnout of vendors." (The farmers market starts in May and runs through the fall.) Market Square is also home to various shops and restaurants, while Colony Crossing offers more eateries, from Dolce Vita's Italian cuisine to Colony Coffee, which roasts on-site.
Another plus is the neighborhood's schools, which include Swift Creek Elementary, Swift Creek Middle and Clover Hill High. —Joan Tupponce
Many of the 775 homes in the Woodland Heights neighborhood have backyards that roll into the 105-acre Forest Hill Park and connect with the James River Park trail system, making it an ideal neighborhood for recreational cyclists, as well as anyone who enjoys an active lifestyle.
"The mountain-bike trails are across the street, and there's a designated road-bike route on Riverside Drive," says Coqui Cyclery co-owner Ann "Spike" Toler, whose bike shop opened in the neighborhood in April. "The area has so many commuter cyclists."
The nationally registered historic district, featuring a mix of Queen Anne-style homes built in the 1890s, bungalows and American foursquare-style houses, traces its roots to the late 19th century, but now it includes a mix of long-term owners and younger families with children.
"When I moved in, the house next door had used vehicles up on cinderblocks," retired architect Ron Geraci says of the neighborhood he moved into in 1985. "In the last 10 years, there are more houses going back to single family and younger people moving in."
Locally owned restaurants include Crossroads Coffee and Ice Cream, a coffee shop that boasts an extensive selection of craft beers, and Parkside Café next door. In January, Patrick Henry School of Science and Arts, a kindergarten through fifth-grade charter school with a focus on environmental awareness and social responsibility, moved into its permanent digs on Semmes Avenue. Another public elementary school serving neighborhood families is J. H. Blackwell Elementary.
"We love being close to the urban center but still having that feeling of being in the country," says Lee Shewmake, president of the Woodland Heights Civic Association . —Anne Dreyfuss
With 900 homes and 2,700 residents, Mechanicsville's Kings Charter feels a little like a small town. The impeccably landscaped homes are laid out along the 2.2-mile, tree-lined Kings Charter Drive.
The planned community features two lakes, three playgrounds and a clubhouse with two pools, tennis courts, a weight room and a sand volleyball court. The neighborhood's active social calendar includes swim teams, tennis clubs, wine tastings and St. Patrick's Day and Oktoberfest celebrations, as well as Easter-egg hunts and a Halloween parade. At Christmas, Santa rides through the neighborhood atop a fire truck, tossing out candy.
Schools serving Kings Charter are Cool Spring Elementary, Chickahominy Middle and Atlee High. Popular local dining destinations include Giovanni's, Guido's, Hanover Tavern, O'Bank's Cafe & Grill, and Pasta House Italian Restaurant.
Nearby Virginia Center Commons mall offers numerous chain dining options, as well as the Regal Virginia Center Stadium 20 movie theater. Target, Martin's, Barnes & Noble and Best Buy are also nearby along U.S. 1.
Kings Charter is a short distance from the intersection of Interstates 295 and 95, making it convenient for downtown commuters. It's just 20 minutes from Short Pump and 45 minutes from Fredericksburg. Many families get season passes to the Kings Dominion theme park, which is only about 10 to 15 minutes away.
"There's quite a lot of variety, considering it feels like a country setting being out in Hanover County, but you're really centrally located," says Kings Charter Owners Association board president Rudy Burgess, who works in the office of the Virginia Secretary of Finance. "There's never a shortage of things to do." —RF
While one of the main draws to living in the Museum District is evident in its name, having neighbors like the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Virginia Historical Society is just the beginning of its appeal. The neighborhood's homes, most built between 1911 and 1930, display a wide range of styles that include Colonial Revival, Italianate, Tudor Revival, Gothic Revival and Deco, and they're on display every Mother's Day during the Museum District Association's house and garden tour. Residents are a mix of college kids, professionals, retirees and families, some of whom send their children to John B. Cary Elementary School.
"It's a great walking neighborhood," says Francis Pollard, a district resident of more than 30 years. "That adds a lot to the quality of life."
Close proximity to Carytown's restaurants and shops is a major plus, but the neighborhood also has its own fair share of businesses catering to locals. Café Diem and Banditos offer live music (and tasty bar fare), the children's bookstore bbgb has the knowledgeable staff you expect at an independently owned shop, and food options range from the down-home delights of a Chiocca's sandwich to the more upscale offerings of Zeus Gallery Café. A number of recent additions are quickly becoming local staples, including The Franklin Inn and Cleveland Market, while renovations are also under way on Italian restaurant Deco and a new location for Black Hand Coffee Co.
The Humphrey Calder Community Center, on the neighborhood's western boundary, is a boon for active residents, with a soccer field, basketball courts, a baseball diamond, a playground, a sand volleyball court and a community garden (albeit one with a 42-person waiting list). Finally, anyone looking to house out-of-town guests has a choice of three B&Bs — Maury Place at Monument, The Kensington and the Museum District B&B. —RG
Erin White, director of programs at Twin Hickory, always expects at least 1,000 residents when she's planning the Fourth of July barbecue at the Henrico neighborhood's pool complex. "It's our most popular event," she says. "We decorate the pool, and we have a DJ."
The patriotic get-together is just one of many gatherings held throughout the year. "We have a community breakfast with game time, bingo, a crab fest with all-you-can-eat crab and seafood, a spring concert and quarterly wine tastings," White says.
Twin Hickory has 17 separate neighborhoods, and schools in and near the neighborhood include Twin Hickory Elementary, Deep Run High, Short Pump Middle and Colonial Trail Elementary.
The prime location near Route 288, I-64 and I-295 attracted Andrew Sundberg and his family. "We like the accessibility," says the dad of two, also pointing out the neighborhood's many sidewalks. "As my kids get older, they can walk or bike to everything — the library, school, YMCA, pool and movies. They can be much more independent."
In addition to walking trails and parks, Twin Hickory has four swimming pools and four tennis courts, plus a community center and playground.
The neighborhood also houses the Primrose School of Twin Hickory daycare and a Henrico County recreation center and branch library, while the Shady Grove Family YMCA is on its outskirts. Twin Hickory Park, being built by the county, is scheduled to open in 2013, with trails, a playground, three picnic shelters and a horseshoe pit. —JT
The dual layout of Founders Bridge — it straddles Chesterfield and Powhatan counties — makes the community somewhat unusual. The Powhatan side of Founders Bridge is home mostly to empty nesters, while the Chesterfield side houses many families. Schools on the Chesterfield side include Bettie Woodson Weaver Elementary, Robious Middle and James River High. An active social committee plans six get-togethers a year, as well as fall and spring festivals, that bring the community together as a whole.
Features include two miles of walking trails, kids' play areas, a tennis court and a swimming complex with a competition pool, two water slides and a baby pool, plus a separate pool just for swimmers 18 and older.
One of the biggest draws is Independence Golf Club, a public course that also serves as the headquarters of the Virginia State Golf Association. The club and its on-site restaurant, the Charles House Bar & Grill, offer discounted rates to residents of Founders Bridge. For those looking to escape the neighborhood for a bit, it's just minutes away from shopping in Midlothian and close to Route 288, meaning easy access to Short Pump's retail offerings.
Alida Martin, who in 2003 started the Founders Bridge News, a bimonthly newsletter for community residents, has made many friends since moving into the neighborhood. The residents on her street hold monthly gatherings they've dubbed Friday on the Court. "Everybody brings something," she says. "It's a very congenial, fun neighborhood." —JT
Located between Cary Street and Patterson Avenue in the near West End, the upscale Hampton Gardens neighborhood has been home to many well-known Richmonders, but none more prominent than the late Pulitzer-winning historian and newspaper editor Douglas Southall Freeman.
Hampton Gardens was built around his stately 1918 Georgian Revival mansion Westbourne, where he entertained luminaries such as Winston Churchill, Dwight Eisenhower, Carl Sandburg and Robert Frost. In recent years, Westbourne was owned by interior designer Todd Yoggy and then by disgraced developer Justin French. Hampton Gardens is home to numerous lawyers, executives and investment professionals, with houses ranging in value from $500,000 to nearly $2 million.
"It's a lovely neighborhood," says Herbert Marth, president and CEO of Central Virginia Bank and a past president of the Hampton Gardens civic association. Most of the spacious homes were custom-built before World War II, and they feature varied brickwork and slate roofs.
"It has more of that Old World aesthetic and craftsmanship than homes built after the '50s," says Laura Waite of One South Realty Group. "It has more Georgians and Tudors."
Local public schools are Mary Munford Elementary, Jefferson Middle and Thomas Jefferson High, but the neighborhood schools for many Hampton Gardens kids are private options such as St. Catherine's, St. Christopher's and Collegiate.
Located near the Country Club of Virginia, Hampton Gardens is convenient to the Libbie and Grove shopping district, where neighbors frequent restaurants such as The Blue Goat and the newly relocated Phil's Continental Lounge, a variety of popular clothing boutiques, antiques stores, and wine shops, as well as the two-screen Regal Westhampton Cinema, which screens foreign films and indie productions. —RF
After Hurricane Irene knocked down trees and power lines in the development last year, residents of The Grove in Midlothian reached out to each other on Facebook and drove around to check on neighbors.
"It's an actual neighborhood," 10-year resident Cathy Allen says. "We care a lot about one another."
Located on 300 acres in Chesterfield County, The Grove is built above the remnants of the country's first coal mines. Walking trails lead to Mid-Lothian Mines Park, a 44-acre preserve with interpretive signs marking historical sites. "We wanted to protect the unique character of Midlothian so it wouldn't get engulfed by all kinds of franchise restaurants and things like that," local developer Tom Garner says of his privately owned park.
The neighborhood also includes a pool and clubhouse, a lake stocked with bass and bream fish, and walking trails. It is adjacent to the Midlothian YMCA and less than a mile from the Midlothian Public Library. Numerous community events are held throughout the year, including a pool-opening Memorial Day picnic, happy hours, a chili cook-off and an Easter-egg hunt.
"When it comes to raising a family in the Richmond area, the cost of living, the personality and all the beauty of this area really sold it for us," says Kris Petroski, who moved to The Grove with her family last year. Midlothian Middle and J.B. Watkins Elementary border the neighborhood, and Midlothian High is down the road.
About a mile away, the Village of Midlothian shopping center includes locally owned restaurants such as Pescados. A little farther west on Midlothian Turnpike, Sycamore Square Shopping Village includes Crab Louie's Seafood Tavern and the mom-and-daughter-owned consignment shop It's Chic Again.
The 450-seat, Greek-style Headstock Amphitheatre, featuring grass tiers and a stage made of timbers, will open across the street from The Grove in June. —AD
Because of its mix of single-family homes, condominiums and townhouses, once residents move to Wellesley, they often stay — even if they move.
After the kids go to college, downsizing from a house to a condo within the neighborhood is a common occurrence, and the mix of options also helps attract a wide range of families, retired couples, and singles of all ages.
Within the Wellesley development are 788 housing units spread among 17 separate neighborhoods. The homeowners association has mandatory quarterly dues of $220, and amenities include a clubhouse, a pool, four tennis courts, a basketball court, pedestrian paths, a fitness center and a lake.
Residents can boat and fish at the lake, and the White Caps youth swim team calls the pool home. Wellesley also has a "Bark Park" for its four-legged residents, while nearby Short Pump Park features a picnic shelter, a baseball diamond and a football/soccer field.
"It's a safe community," says 10-year resident Elizabeth Betz. "You feel like you can give your kids a little more freedom to ride their bikes."
The neighborhood's school-age children can attend Short Pump Elementary, Pocahontas Middle and Godwin High.
Wellesley's close proximity to Short Pump Town Center and West Broad Village ensures that residents are never at a loss for shopping opportunities, and the Shops at Wellesley are even closer, offering a slice of pizza from Vinny's Italian Grille, a dosa from Malabar Indian Cuisine and the Grand Marnier chocolate beignets at Patina Grill. —RG
Named for its most prominent neighbor, the 262-acre Bryan Park, this cozy Henrico community boasts a healthy mix of young families and older residents living in a variety of postwar bungalows, Cape Cods and ranchers. The neighborhood feeds into Lakeside Elementary, Moody Middle and Hermitage High, and it boasts easy access to interstates 64 and 95.
"You can get anywhere in the city from this location," says lifelong Bryan Parkway resident and former civic association president Teddy Martin.
For residents who wish to entertain themselves within the neighborhood, Lakeside Avenue features a host of small businesses, including Glow Med Spa, where massage therapists make house calls for regular clients, and Franco's Fine Clothier, which carries an extensive collection of men's fashions, from suits to footwear.
And who could forget the mouthwatering delights of Roy's Big Burger, the snack shack that hasn't changed much since it opened more than 50 years ago? Along with the old standards, the stand offers a $10 four-by-four burger — four hamburger patties, four slices of cheese. If you're in the mood for some live music, neighborhood hangout McCook's Lakeside Sports Grill offers it most nights, along with every NFL and MLB game.
Bryan Park itself offers trails, two tennis courts, six soccer fields, ponds for fishing and duck feeding, picnic shelters, and an 18-basket disc-golf course. Purple martins migrate to the park in the warmer months, and birdhouses allow easy viewing. The Market Emporium farmers market is held at the park on Tuesdays, May through November, and the Richmond Vegetarian Festival returns for its 10th year on June 23. —RG
The 400 wooded acres of Hanover County's AshCreek development feature traditional multibedroom homes that are ideal for raising a large family.
Residents can take advantage of two tennis courts, a pool, a playground and a sports court for basketball, volleyball, cornhole and hopscotch, as well as aerobics classes at the Clubhouse fitness center. Kids can join AshCreek's competitive youth swim team, the Crocs. AshCreek is renovating an area that used to be a playground, though the neighborhood hasn't decided whether it will return as a playground or something else.
The neighborhood also hosts events, like a Fourth of July Parade, a Doggie Swim Fundraiser to benefit the Lab Rescue of Greater Richmond and the annual AshCreek 5K. Civic groups meet at AshCreek's Clubhouse, and block parties are a common occurrence. VIPs like NBC 12's Sabrina Squire and CBS 6's Lane Casadonte call AshCreek home, and nearby Virginia Center Commons Mall and its satellite big-box retailers cover most shopping needs.
AshCreek's 648 homes run from the mid $200s to the mid $400s, and school-age residents feed into Pearson's Corner Elementary, Chickahominy Middle, and Atlee and Hanover high schools.
Sandra Griffin, who moved to AshCreek eight years ago from New York City, appreciates the neighborhood's eco-friendly efforts, like paying to replace old storm drains, being proactive about recycling and conducting energy audits. "We are extremely environmentally conscious," Griffin says. —RG