If a house is too much upkeep and an apartment doesn't allow enough control, a condo may be just right for you. With all the new condo developments springing up from the West End to South Side, you may wonder who's filling them up. The answer is hardly clean-cut: They're empty-nesters who want to travel freely, working students too busy to deal with a lawn, new Richmonders and families.
The Young Professional
Tiffany Overstreet decided a condo was right for her because she wanted the benefits of owning a property but was too busy juggling a full-time job and part-time grad school to take care of a home. "I'm at a stage where I do a lot of traveling in my career," she says. "I'm just not ready to deal with a house." Overstreet chose to live at Lock Lane on Grove Avenue because the property allows her access to public areas, including a pool, a grill and outdoor seating. "There is all this lovely green space that I get to enjoy without taking care of it," she says. "It's been wonderful for entertaining."
The Empty Nester
After living in her home for more than 40 years, Kathleen Burke Barrett decided it was time to downsize: "I wanted more freedom," she says, "I wanted to be able to turn the key and leave." She decided a condo was right, but wanted one that still allowed her space to do what she loves, entertain family and friends. She found it at The Brunswick, a renovated Fan home with high ceilings, big windows and a large dining room that allows her to have her family over for dinner. "I've never looked back," she says. "I thought I might miss my garden, but I don't."
New to the City
After living in Richmond for a year, Dave Perry wanted to buy, but also keep the sense of community of an apartment building. Perry bought a condo in the Manchester Lofts downtown. "The money I had for a down payment and the quality of life I wanted lent itself to a condo," he says, noting that he got a new property in a desirable location for what he'd pay for a house in a less desirable area requiring more repairs. He also feels a community aspect there: "It's dog-friendly. It's social-oriented, but not so much where everyone's in everyone else's business," he says. "There's a rooftop deck and you can go up yourself or go up and sit with other people."
After Brooke Weisleder launched a business with his sons, who all somehow ended up in Richmond, he and his wife, Sally, decided they needed a part-time residence in the area. They already have two homes, one in New Jersey and one in Florida, but they were renting an apartment in Richmond and traveling back and forth on a regular basis. Brooke met the builder of Vistas on the James and decided it was time to establish roots on the riverfront. He bought three units on the top floor, knocked down the walls and made a penthouse.
They have enough space to have the family over and let grandkids spend the night, but they can easily pick up and leave: "You don't have to worry about anything," Sally says, adding that Vistas on the James allowed them the downtown life without all the noise of bars letting out and ambulances driving by. Plus, they could customize the space, removing walls and adding elements like a bar as they pleased. Brooke says, "If you simplify, have dynamite views and live in a cool place, why not?"
The Family of Four
When Jason Hopkins moved to Richmond two years ago to work on Rocketts Landing, he bought a house in Powhatan. He also purchased a property in one of the buildings his company, Design Physics, built. He originally planned on using the condo as a showroom and workspace, but the 40-minute drive each way to his daughters' private school got to be too much. Soon Hopkins and his wife found themselves staying at the condo during the week, and now they live at Rocketts during the week and treat the Powhatan residence as a vacation home.
He and his older daughter, Mason, bike the 6 miles to school together: "It's time we get to spend together, just us." While some people may fear kids in a condo wouldn't be as exposed to the outdoors, Hopkins says, "Our kids are outside more in Rocketts Landing then they are in Powhatan."
He and his wife, Monica, bought a unit right on the street, which makes keeping tabs on the girls easier. The family also takes advantage of the garden, pool and other grassy spaces. Hopkins says condo life works, because when he's not working he can be spending time with his kids: "You're not spending three hours riding around on a lawn mower, you're spending your time doing other things."