Convenient, but still `a little hidden treasure'

Neighborhood profile: Allview Estates

Custom-built homes are on acre lots, close to U.S. 29

September 09, 2001|By Diane Mikulis | Diane Mikulis,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Thirteen years ago when Mike Williamson decided to move from his modest Silver Spring home, he was sure he wanted to buy a house on a huge lot.

"I had delusions of grandeur, of getting 5 acres. Then I decided I didn't want to mow 5 acres of ragweed," he said.

Mike and Lori Williamson found a nice compromise in Allview Estates in central Howard County where custom-built homes are situated on lots of about an acre. Most of the houses were built in the 1950s and 1960s, and the one the Williamsons bought was in need of some updating.

"The house was vacant and needed some work," Mike Williamson said. "Being a remodeling contractor, we thought that was great."

Over the years they have carried out a number of projects, replacing paneling, walls, ceilings and doors.

One of the things they like best about the neighborhood is its location.

Allview Estates sits just off U.S. 29 and is surrounded by Columbia, although the approximately 300 homes are not a part of Columbia.

"It's so convenient to get around," Williamson said. "It's less than a half-hour to downtown Baltimore, 40 minutes to Washington and 15 or 16 minutes to the airport."

Chuck Raymond, one of the few remaining original Allview Estates residents, built his home in 1961 and remembers what life was like before Columbia was built.

"I used to have to drive seven miles to get a loaf of bread," he recalled. At that time, U.S. 29 was just a two-lane road. There were three gas stations and a garage nearby and not much else."

"When Columbia came in, they built a lot of schools," Raymond said. "Columbia offered educational opportunities for my children and employment opportunities later on. It was nice to be right in the middle of Columbia, but not pay the tax."

The "tax" Raymond referred to is not a real tax, but an assessment on all property owners within Columbia.

One of the biggest changes Raymond has seen is the updating of the roads.

In his time he has seen U.S. 29 converted to a four-lane divided highway with limited access. Allview Estates used to open directly onto U.S. 29, but is now accessed by a secondary road that winds around to the highway and another side street that opens to Broken Land Parkway.

Megan Smith, Raymond's next-door neighbor, moved to the neighborhood from Laurel four years ago with her husband. They had heard about the area from one of her husband's co-workers.

"At first I was put off by being surrounded by major roads, but it's a large enough area," Smith said. "It's a little hidden treasure."

The Smiths were in search of an unusual home and decided on a custom-built split-level that was constructed in 1959. The home was well-built and had a dry basement with no indication of mold or mildew.

Since the couple adopted their son, now 21 months old, Megan Smith has come to appreciate how pleasant it is to walk around the neighborhood and to the nearby shopping center. She also appreciates the diversity the area offers.

"I like the fact that there are retired people as well as a good racial mix," she said. Their son is from Guatemala and they would like him to grow up with people of different ethnic groups.

Built in 1984, the home occupied by the Arnold family may be considered one of the newer ones in Allview Estates. The couple was very familiar with the neighborhood because Alan Arnold had lived there while growing up.

"They used to have their own private water system here with water towers," Jean Arnold said. "They switched to the county system, so the tower lots became available. and we built our home on one."

The streets in Allview Estates - with names such as Maple, Pine, Evergreen and Beechwood - meander through the hilly, wooded landscape. Most of the homes are brick ranchers with a sprinkling of split-levels and two-storied houses.

The elementary school and a park are within walking distance for most residents. Because all the houses were originally on septic systems, the lots are typically larger than those found in Columbia subdivisions.

Selling prices range from just less than $200,000 to more than $300,000. Most are in the low to mid-$200,000s. As do those in many Howard County subdivisions, homes in Allview Estates sell briskly, averaging 39 days on the market, with some going in one day. And it's not unusual for people to pay full asking price or more.

"People lay in wait for a house to go up for sale, and they pay a premium," Raymond said.

Allview Estates

ZIP code: 21046

Commute to downtown Baltimore: 30 minutes

Public schools: Atholton Elementary, Oakland Mills Middle, Oakland Mills High

Shopping: Village centers at Owen Brown and Hickory Ridge, Atholton Shopping Center, Snowden Square, Dobbin Center, Columbia Crossing, The Mall in Columbia

Homes on market: 2

Average listing price: $249,392*

Average sale price: $250,652*

Average days on market: 39

Sale price as percentage of listing price: 100.51%*Based on 24 sales in the past 12 months, compiled by Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc.

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