Buying Here: Verona


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In the early 1990s, Barry Caprino wasn't having much luck finding riverfront property to build his dream home. He even tried knocking on people's doors but the answer was always "No."

Then one afternoon he stopped at the riverfront park in Verona. Sitting on a park bench, he noticed a rusted old sign in the overgrown shrubs next to the park. After calling the barely legible phone number, he finally got the answer he was looking for.

The result was the brick and stucco contemporary at 147 Grant St. (MLS No. 968855), which is now for sale for $440,000 through Realtor Bill Craig of RE/MAX 3000 (412-427-2479). Although its lot is only 0.17 of an acre, it has 66 feet of Allegheny River views.

"Worked with a friend that was an architect from CMU and told him I wanted to see the river from every room," said Mr. Caprino.

Architect Sean Cosgrove gave him those views and more, creating a multi-level house with three bedrooms, two baths and a long wall of glass running the length of the river side. Every room comes with a view except the bathrooms.

The main-level deck, which also runs the length of the house, leads to the private dock where Mr. Caprino moors his Baha cruiser boat.

"It took the best part of a year to build the house," he said. "I'm a stickler on things matching, details. ... That's why it took so long."

Rather than use a solid railing that would block views from the deck, Mr. Caprino and his architect demanded thin but extremely strong aircraft cable. Solid doors posed a similar problem, so the 33- by 14-foot great room has a wall of French doors that open onto the deck. The three large windows on top guarantee that there will be nothing but glass between occupants and the view of life as it floats by on the river.

Even the upper rooms on the other sides of the home open onto the great room. The cascading effect adds to the drama of the vaulted ceiling with skylights, and the brass balustrades give a nautical feel to the home, like you're standing on the deck of a ship.

At one end of the great room is a large fireplace with a dark brick surround. At the other end is a set of stairs leading down to the entryway and another set that leads up to the next level, which contains the 12- by 15-foot kitchen, 15- by 15-foot dining room and a full bathroom.

That bathroom "almost looks like a vault when you walk in," thanks to its expanse of black diamond granite, another detail Mr. Caprino insisted upon.

A Juliet balcony off the living room offers a grand view of the different levels of the house, the great room and, of course, the river.

The custom-made kitchen has sleek cream-colored cabinets and granite counter tops. A Sub-Zero refrigerator is neatly concealed behind cream-colored panels while the Kenmore gas cooktop, built-in oven, dishwasher and microwave are a contrasting black. The granite tops on the breakfast counter match the granite in the entryway. Two months ago, Mr. Caprino had the oak floor in the kitchen and dining room refinished. Pickling with white wash gives the rooms a beachy feel.

One highlight of the foyer is a 30-foot palm tree, one of the 12 palms sprinkled throughout the house.

"Kids from the park are always asking, 'How did you get a palm tree to grow in your house?"' said Mr. Caprino. "That will definitely come with the house."

In the living room is a 12-foot-tall glass palm tree that blows bubbles and changes color; it can be seen from the river.

The three bedrooms are each on a different level: a 16- by 14-foot room currently being used as an office on the fourth level, the 15- by 15-foot master on the third level and a 13- by 9-foot guest bedroom on "a half floor" a couple of steps from the second floor. All have great views.

The master suite features his and hers closets and a four-piece bathroom including a jetted tub. Marble covers the floor and runs halfway up the walls, contrasting with deep emerald fixtures. A full-length mirror covers one wall and two skylights give the room a sunny atrium feel.

The master bedroom has a sliding glass door leading to a rooftop deck that is almost as large as the bedroom. It offers an amazing view up and down the river, including the neighboring town of Oakmont.

There is a three-car garage and laundry room on a separate level and below that an unfinished basement that offers plenty of storage. There is gas forced-air heating and zoned central air conditioning.

Having a boat and private river access makes it easy for Mr. Caprino to head down river for a concert at PNC Park or a Steelers game at Heinz Field.

"I have to go through only one lock, at Highland Park, to get Downtown," he said.

Or he can stay home and enjoy watching life roll by lounging on the deck, which was built to resemble the deck of a ship; it's 70 feet wide and narrows down to 10 feet at the "prow."

Mr. Caprino said he is only about 20 minutes from Downtown by car and shops in Fox Chapel and Oakmont. He notes that there are only a few houses on one side and the park on the other, adding to the house's privacy.

Over the last three years, only one property has sold on Grant Street, for $27,000 in August 2013 (www.realstats.net). The county assessed value is $175,000 (www2.county.allegheny.pa.us/RealEstate/Search.aspx).

"Nice thing about Verona vs. Oakmont is that taxes are a lot cheaper in Verona," Mr. Caprino said. "I have a friend up the river and he pay pays twice the taxes [I do]."

Mr. Caprino said he is willing to sell the house with or without its furnishings. A home warranty is an option for buyers, he said.

"I just want to downsize. Did it, done it, time to move on. Time for someone else to enjoy it."


SALES SNAPSHOT


CHALFANT


2012

2013

SALES

7

8

MEDIAN PRICE

$18,500

$20,000

HIGHEST PRICE

$67,500

$109,000



CHURCHILL


2012

2013

SALES

50

78

MEDIAN PRICE

$140,000

$134,900

HIGHEST PRICE

$400,000

$356,000



FOREST HILLS


2012

2013

SALES

97

117

MEDIAN PRICE

$94,000

$109,500

HIGHEST PRICE

$240,000

$335,000



MONROEVILLE


2012

2013

SALES

267

390

MEDIAN PRICE

$123,500

$118,000

HIGHEST PRICE

$730,000

$585,000



OAKMONT


2012

2013

SALES

110

168

MEDIAN PRICE

$200,000

$163,000

HIGHEST PRICE

$623,850

$670,000



PENN HILLS


2012

2013

SALES

589

757

MEDIAN PRICE

$55,000

$59,900

HIGHEST PRICE

$359,000

$218,000

PITCAIRN


2012

2013

SALES

33

48

MEDIAN PRICE

$22,500

$28,314

HIGHEST PRICE

$97,900

$80,000



PLUM


2012

2013

SALES

252

395

MEDIAN PRICE

$139,400

$139,000

HIGHEST PRICE

$400,000

$475,000



VERONA


2012

2013

SALES

35

33

MEDIAN PRICE

$57,000

$40,000

HIGHEST PRICE

$336,250

$363,000



WILKINS


2012

2013

SALES

59

108

MEDIAN PRICE

$73,000

$74,500

HIGHEST PRICE

$255,500

$263,500



WILKINSBURG


2012

2013

SALES

173

206

MEDIAN PRICE

$28,000

$32,877

HIGHEST PRICE

$389,000

$400,000


homes

Lizabeth Gray: lgray@post-gazette.com. First Published October 18, 2013 8:00 PM


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