Remember that handyman-special house that the local water authority offered for sale in September? It’s still on the market.
“We didn’t get any bids,” said Andrea Bowles, the water resources manager for the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority.
The late 19th century structure known as the “Elliot House” was offered two months ago to anyone who would pay at least $300,000 for the 2.2-acre property located between Free Union and Earlysville. A bidder who would vow to preserve this house in one of the more scenic parts of Albemarle County could obtain it for as little as $250,000.
But apparently that wasn’t low enough. Now, the RWSA has issued a new bid packet that puts the minimum bid at $149,000 for those who’d bulldoze and $124,000 for those who’d preserve. The new prices intrigue renovator Rob Robertson of Robertson Renovations.
“Really?” Robertson asked upon hearing the new pricing. “Maybe I’ll go buy it.”
Back in September, Robertson had toured the house with a couple who were prospective buyers and informed them of a litany of needed renovations. He says the new pricing should lure some bids.
“It’s totally marketable at that price,” said Robertson. “I think it’s a great spot, it’s got good history, and there’s a lot you can do with it.”
The house has three fireplaces and about 2,000 square feet of space. Outside, its stucco skin is covered with grime and algae, and some eaves are rotted. Inside, mouse droppings compete on volume with dead insects, and a hole in the kitchen floor speak to years without a tenant.
The RWSA purchased this property as part of 1,314 acres acquired—some of by eminent domain—in the 1980s to create a new reservoir. However, officials subsequently discovered that the waterway that would be impounded—Buck Mountain Creek—was habitat to the James River spinymussel, an endangered species of freshwater mollusk. RWSA kept the land, later planting new trees and shrubs and fencing out livestock as “mitigation” to compensate for the land subsequently flooded when RWSA expanded the Ragged Mountain Reservoir.
Bowles says that RWSA’s board views holding on to this property as a liability and hopes that the new pricing stokes some interest. Bids are due by 2 p.m. on Nov. 8.
“We will open bids on the eighth and then take it to the board,” said Bowles. “The board has to ultimately approve the sale.”
Renovator Robertson contended that the new price will definitely result in a sale this time.
“It’s got good bones,” said Robertson, “but now it’s workable and doable at that price.”