Category Archives: Local Richmond

The Westwood Neighborhood of Richmond, VA

Westwood: “a neighborhood that began in ‘the golden era of postwar expansion’”

The “Home” section of the Richmond Times-Dispatch and Doug Childers wrote a lovely article on this little neighborhood located off of Libbie Avenue between Monument Avenue and Broad Street on Saturday, August 18th, just this past weekend. It is part of their popular series about the many of the neighborhoods in and around Richmond that have captured the attention of casual readers and historians alike. Corbin Ryland and I have a shared listing here, and as a result our good fortunes were able to garner a bit of free advertizing for us.

The article describes the expansion befalling Short Pump during the boom of the eighties and nineties, but in comparison was nothing to that of near western Henrico at the conclusion of the Second World War. Baby Boomers were exploding and building homes close to where Saint Mary’s Hospital is located. It was “the county’s largest residential expansion” during those years. It is popular again today for much of the same reasons it developed back then.

The history of the neighborhood briefly touches on the fact that Westwood was established on the former golf course once belonging to what is now The Westwood Club, currently a racket and swim club. Prior to the Great Depression, The Westwood Officer’s Club was on the fringe of the sticks, mostly agricultural land, and they owned much of the property from Monument Avenue to Broad Street and all the way to Willow Lawn. The Great Depression resulted in selling off the land in order to keep the club from completely disappearing, and it remains a popular feature there today.

While Westwood is a shining example of beautiful near west end, post-war homes, in a matured neighborhood, I can’t help imagining how differently it may have evolved if the Great Depression didn’t come along and vastly change the landscape in this area of town. Nevertheless, it now continues to attract buyers because of its mutual approximation to the far west end, and to down town. It appeals to those downsizing as well as to various types of families who still want a yard and a solidly built home without sacrificing convenience for time spent traveling in the car.

The RTD article is well worth the read, but if you would like additional information about this area or have questions about Real Estate, please contacts us. We will be happy to assist you!

 

John VanderSyde is a Licensed Real Estate Broker and a Licensed Architect. He has been in construction, development and building since 1986, and a licensed Realtor since 2002. He and his wife Ann are team partners at Virginia Properties, a Long & Foster Company in Richmond, VA.

Spring and the Marketplace – What’s Different this Year?

   I’m looking at the Weekend Section of the newspaper. There is a lot of information about the latest market conditions, news beyond the bust, and interests in the “home” trending upward.  There is a resurgence of advertisement, upbeat statistics, and the pleasing optimism that aligns itself with improving real estate conditions. It is the blush of spring, where new homes for sale honestly reflects the time of year when fresh and new is sincere and hopeful. It is distinctly different than what we have been experiencing over the last several years, and it is notable.

   None of this can happen without the eager participation of buyers and sellers! Open house dates are spinning with activity, full of sincere purchasers looking at the “home” as something more than just an investment. They are remembering that homeownership is about choosing a lifestyle, as well as a standard of living, that suits one’s particular needs. It is the notion that “location, price and condition” are more than simply buzz-words and market hype, and that people really want to live where it matters most to them.

   The relevance of investors doesn’t adequately describe the true nature of their contribution to the marketplace. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that 27 percent of all real estate transactions in 2011 were for the purchase of an investment property, and that 11 percent of all real estate transactions last year were second home purchases. A significant portion of these transactions were paid for with cash, which further supports the idea that many buyers are investing in a lifestyle, and not just their bottom line.

    There is no doubt a science to real estate, but it doesn’t overshadow the complementary feelings and emotions that go into buying and selling homes. People know this, and it is eminently apparent that we are currently enjoying a little more of the latter during this rather delightful time of year. This is of course the notable difference from recent past years in real estate. Let’s choose to keep looking forward; because after all that’s where the future is – for all of us!

 

John VanderSyde is an Associate Broker, REALTOR with Virginia Properties in Richmond, VA (804) 282-7300

The Stonewall Court of Richmond, VA – A Brief History

At the declaration of World War II in 1941, the nation was put on alert for protection against foreign invasion. Over the entire country, from the East to the West Coasts, groups were formed for the safety and protection of people in all communities. Men and women were selected from each neighborhood to form a Civil Defense Patrol.

In the “Court”, it was decided a meeting place had to be established, a location where the Patrol could hold gatherings and store equipment. As it turns out, one of my former listings, the dwelling known as 345 Lexington Road, was chosen for this task. It was selected because it had a basement and was one of the few places that could be entered from the outside, without going through the house.

Shelves and racks were installed in the basement to hold steel helmets, special flashlights, stretchers, splints, and other first-aid equipment needed for emergencies. Like most communities during that time, thick black shades covered all the windows and doors of homes on the Court.

When the sirens wailed in the night, Wardens reported immediately to the designated meeting place and pick up their helmets and lights. Streets were patrolled with vigilance to insure that no light was visible from any building and to verify that everyone was off the street.

 The wardens stayed at their posts until the “all clear” signal was given. Then they returned to headquarters to replace the equipment (and perhaps more than not to socialize).  As World War II ended with a community drawn more closely together by a common interest, it was decided by the group that they should remain together, meeting in the same place, but calling themselves the Stonewall Court Civic Association.

The purpose of the new association was to further community interest in civic affairs and to encourage friendly relationships and interaction between all families living on the Court. Voluntary participation in the Association is one of the fundamental essentials that enable the residents of this neighborhood to be so connected to this day.

As a result, the people who have come to live in Stonewall Court continue to pick up the torch by carrying on the ideals and sprit of the Air Raid Wardens of 1941. This is a vibrant neighborhood with a close, caring community; it is one of many in the area I am happy to represent!

 

[Information provided through the Stonewall Court Civic Association]

What about Real Estate Stats

Have you seen any home statistics lately?  Do you find this information to be invigorating or exhausting? Do these numbers excite you enough to think about buying or selling a home, or do they entice you to plug your ears and block out the market banter? There is an excess of information out there, so what should you believe, who should you listen to, and what should you do?

We as real estate professionals are in the business of evaluating real property every day. The overall message we receive is positive, and it is part of our job to relay this good information to you the consumer. I can point to dozens of stats and market analysis that should easily convince most people of the improving market conditions, as well as the unarguable fact that interest rates remain so low that this may be the best opportunity to own a home EVER. But listen to the national media and it doesn’t mean a thing if consumer confidence in the market is down.

Fortunately, Richmond Virginia fairs better than the national housing market. In general, we enjoy a good housing industry. While there are many homes that sit on the market, there are many more that sell immediately – and yes, some with multiple offers.  We know these are challenging times for buyers and sellers because there is so much uncertainty about what is the best decision for each of us.

We can tell you that the housing market will continue to improve and that interest rates will go up; we wish we could be specific about exactly when to expect this to happen. In the mean time, we will advise you to listen to your personal needs, contact your trusted housing advisor, and have them discuss with you the current market trends as it relates to your specific situation. Well informed consumers are empowered to make smart decisions, and real estate is no exception.

Richmond’s Small Town Charm Offers Hope & Optimism

 Ann and I just went over to the Libbie Market to grab a quick bite to take back to the office. The wonderful thing about Richmond is the fact that almost anywhere you go you are all but certain to run into someone you know. Well today is no exception. We ran into a friend of mine from college. She owns and manages a small placement firm that specializes in finding work for mostly mothers that have so much to contribute to the work force, but also wish to manage their families in addition to generating an income.

 The almost unexpected thing came out of our conversation when I asked how her business has been. She, by the way, has adorable twin boys that you can imagine demand much of her attention. Regardless, she said business has been amazingly good. She continued to say that the number of people she places has been great, and, here is the really wonderful news, that the number of companies contacting her for help has also increased this summer.

 After all the negativity and hesitance I get when asking “how’s business”, I was momentarily shocked by her response. Then delight and confidence seem to fill up inside me as if to say, “see, there are good things happening in the work force today; I wonder why we don’t hear more stories like this one from our media outlets?”

 I like getting the good news and spreading the word about good fortune and hope. It makes me feel good, and I like feeling good. Hopefully this will inspire you have a great day and pass on your good news to others, increase your productivity, and improve your business. Who knows, this small town might just start a trend that proves a positive approach to living can jump-start our economy. I’m firmly committed to it, how about you?

Seventy Five years of Richmond’s Historic Preservation

This year is the seventy fifth year that officially marks the foundation of historic preservation in Richmond, Virginia in 1935. Laying the ground work for preservation in the 1920’s and 30’s, “Mary Wingfield Scott, Elisabeth Scott Bocock, Louise Catterall and Mary Reed contributed significantly to the increased appreciation for Richmond’s built environment through research, publication, postcards and walking tours”. It wasn’t until 1935 when an important historic structure, the Adam Craig House, was threatened with demolition that the idea of preservation as a practice was established.

It was Mary Wingfield Scott who formed a committee in order to purchase and preserve the Craig House. Located at 1812 East Grace Street, it was “the childhood home of Jane Craig Stanard, the subject of Edgar Allan Poe’s “To Helen,” the Adam Craig House was one of the few remaining 18th century structures in Richmond”. The then 145 year old home was saved from destruction and is touted as perhaps the oldest continuously occupied residences in Richmond today.

The Adam Craig House is listed again for sale by Virginia Properties, a Long & Foster Company; in August of 2010 this historic landmark is once again available for purchase in time to celebrate one of the most remarkable foundations in Richmond. Qualified purchasers can call for an appointment and the opportunity to own a significant piece of historic Richmond History.

Researched through the Historic Richmond Foundation, 4 E. Main Street, Suite 1-C, Richmond, VA 23219, www.historicrichmond.com

The Virginia Center for Architecture

Located on Monument Avenue

The Virginia Center for Architecture – Now on Permanent Exhibit:

The House That Pope Built

The Virginia Center for Architecture celebrates two years of bringing architecture to life with the opening of a permanent exhibit on its headquarters building, built in 1919 by architect John Russell Pope, FAIA.

The House That Pope Built includes photographs, narrative, and other educational media that shed light on the house — a 27,000-square-foot Tudor-Revival mansion — in addition to John Kerr Branch, the patron who commissioned its construction; the architect; the house’s interiors; its setting on Richmond’s historic Monument Avenue; and Compton Wynyates, the 15th/16th-century English country house that inspired the building’s design.

What else is going on at the Center? Take a look at our upcoming tours and other special programs

Check out the latest offerings from the VCA Museum Shop

On the Washington Post’s list of 5 More Reasons to Visit Richmond Now: The Virginia Center for Architecture!

See where Virginia’s buildings rank in the AIA’s poll of America’s favorite architecture