The Virginia Festival of the Book Hits Charlottesville March 16-20

VaBookFestival2016-OrigCharlottesville has a rich literary tradition, influenced by both the personal libraries of men like Jefferson and Madison, the University of Virginia’s vast collection, and the presence of authors like Charles Wright, Rita Dove, and John Grisham. The Virginia Festival of the Book is an annual testament to the social and communal power of literature. For the 22nd year, the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities will bring authors and readers together to celebrate the best things about literary culture. The festival has a wide range of programs, from panels with authors, a celebration of local Pulitzer Prize winners (it’s the Pulitzer’s 99th anniversary), an exploration of Charlottesville’s changing demographic makeup through the lens of literature, and the StoryFest series for the children. Much of the action is concentrated in the downtown mall area, at places like the Paramount Theater, the Central Jefferson-Madison Regional Library, Champion Brewery, and the Omni Hotel. There’s also a smattering of events at UVa, most notably at the Culbreth Theater. If you have kids, chances are there’s an event going on at their school, no matter how small.

One of the best things about the Virginia Festival of the Book is the opportunity to come face to face with some truly esteemed writers. One such opportunity will present itself on 6:30pm on Friday, March 18th at UVa’s Culbreth Theater. It’s a celebration of Pulitzer Prize-winning poets Rita Dove, Vijay Seshardi, and Greg Pardlo. Each of the poets will read their award-winning selections and discuss their work. Dove is an esteemed poet, the first African American Poet Laureate, and a professor at UVa. On the 19th at the Central Jefferson-Madison Regional Library on Market Street, two authors, Martha Wolfe and Mary Lyons (author of The Virginia Blue Ridge Railroad) will host a discussion about the Piedmont region and localized history about land in central Virginia. Author Leanna Joyner will highlight Civil War sites situated on the Appalachian Trail; Joyner wrote a book called Hiking Through History: Civil War Sites on the Appalachian Trail. The StoryFest has great offerings for kids, like a celebration of the TV show Arthur’s 20th birthday at the Paramount Theater or the opening ceremony which celebrates literacy in Virginia with Secretary of Education Anne Holton, also at the Central JMRL. There are countless other programs and exhibitions at a variety of locations around the Charlottesville area. Click the link above or get in touch with us at Gayle Harvey Real Estate for more information!

Shenandoah Valley Farm Wins Big

Shenandoah Valley Farm Wins Wall Street Journal House of the WeelOur listing, Still Ridge Farm in the Shenandoah Valley, was selected as the Wall Street Journal’s House of the Day last Thursday.  On Friday, it was put  up for public vote against some very stiff competition as the Wall Street Journal’s House of the Week.  The competitors were a triplex with a rooftop terrace overlooking Paris, an architecturally designed townhome in Manhattan and a retreat overlooking the Pacific Ocean in New Zealand.  Still Ridge beat out the competition! This is the type of marketing and exposure we like to produce for our seller clients. Selling Virginia Farms with Great Marketing is what sets Gayle Harvey Real Estate apart from the competition.

Violet Crown Cinema

Charlottesville's Violet Crown CinemaEat Your Dinner at the Movies at Violet Crown Cinema

When Vinegar Hill shut down a couple of years ago, it prompted reactions ranging from mildly disappointment to utter devastation. It was one of the most unique institutions to land in the Charlottesville area, with its penchant for art house films and first-runs. It looked like our only options were the Regal Cinemas on the Downtown Mall and at Stonefield (multiplexes with all of the latest Hollywood flicks) or digital streaming services that kept us at home. Were we doomed to consume big-budget blockbusters for the rest of our days, or else wither and atrophy in front of the Netflix screen?

Not so! Violet Crown Cinema has opened up in the building where the Regal used to be, downtown on some of the best real estate in Charlottesville. This is the third Violet Crown location (the other two are in Santa Fe and Austin). It’s save to say that, compared to multiplexes like the Regal chain, this new theater offers a completely different cinematic experience. The open, inviting space has deep purple walls and invigorating light. Walking past it on the Mall, you can see clearly into its open bar and cafe-style restaurant. That’s right, the cinema has a full bar, featuring a couple of novelty pun-ridden cocktails like the Bloody Carrie (a take on the Bloody Mary named after the 1976 film Carrie, whose star Sissy Spacek owns a farm in Albemarle County).

The establishment also has a restaurant that aims to use locally-sourced ingredients from Charlottesville farms and other area farms in central Virginia. Right now on the menu you can get beer brats and hotdogs made from Wagyu beef, as well as fries and pizza with more culinary innovations to come. They’re also working with Albemarle Baking Company for fresh bread and Feast! for delicious cheeses and charcuterie and aim to reach out to many other Charlottesville businesses, incorporating the town’s local food ethos.

The cinema itself has 10 screens; three smaller screens tucked away behidnd the bar and seven larger ones upstairs. Each room seats between 60 to 160 people at a time, and all the seats are pretty solid, (even those annoying front row seats that you get when you’re seeing a crowded film…you know, the ones where you have to crane your neck to get a good look). As far as films go, the cinema offers substantive films, many of them independent art house flicks or foreign films. These are the types of pictures celebrated at the film festivals in Tornto, Berlin, or Cannes…so naturally they are not the types of films you could see at the Regal. This writer’s favorite offering is Jafar Panahi’s Taxi, a 2015 documentary-like portrait of the city of Tehran. But there are several other great films to check out, and you can enjoy a drink and a bite all at the same time. Your one-stop-shop for dinner and a movie!

Don’t Miss the Virginia Film Festival!

18930870259_0f5a2cf8b8_zThe Virginia Film Festival is coming up! Throughout the entire weekend of November 5-8, you can immerse yourself in a wide range of cinematic pursuits, from original short films to some of the oldest classics, documentaries, dramas and everything in between. Created in 1988, the Virginia Film Festival is one of the most enduring recent traditions to land in Charlottesville. If you live in Albemarle County, you probably know firsthand how disparate the interests of the University of Virginia and the interests of the rest of the city and especially the county can be; but the film fest always does a great job with community integration.

The festival screens films from all over the world, spanning multiple genres. Some of them, like The Maltese Falcon or Murnau’s Faust are classics, but there are also many recent pictures, some of which haven’t been widely released. One of the biggest features of the festival is its inclusion of actors, actresses, directors, and other personnel who worked on the featured films. Oftentimes these figures will provide commentary and answer questions before or after the screening of the films which really does make seeing a film at the fest a unique experience. We’ll talk here about some of the things we’re most excited for, from individual films to program events and workshops.

I Saw the Light is one of the first on our list. An appreciation for country and folk music is definitely the lay of the land in Charlottesville and central Virginia, and so a biopic about the legendary Hank Williams is especially exciting. Directed by Marc Abraham, and starring Tom Hiddleston as the iconic country pioneer, this picture is scheduled to be released next March. Presumably in the tradition of films like Ray (about singer/pianist Ray Charles) or Walk the Line (about Johnny Cash). I Saw the Light spans 29 years, the length of Williams’ life. The film covers his humble beginnings, ascension to fame and turbulent relationships. Writer-director Marc Abraham and actresses Cherry Jones and Maddie Hasson (who plays his mother and second wife, respectively) will be present for discussion. Playing Thursday, Nov. 5 at 7pm, at the Paramount Theatre on the Downtown Mall.

Mercy Street is an upcoming PBS Civil War medical drama, produced on land in central Virginia, mostly in and around Richmond. It’s a character-based series whose first installment will play at the festival. Beginning in the spring of 1862, it follows the lives of two volunteer nurses on either side of the war. They collide at the Mansion House, a luxury hotel in Alexandria that has been converted into a Union Army hospital. Due to its location in Northern Virginia and its proximity to the capital, Alexandria was considered a border town…indeed it was the longest Confederate-occupied city of the war. Since several properties in central Virginia are colored with Civil War-era history, this is a fitting accession for the film festival. There will be a panel with actresses Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Tara Summers, and Hannah James, co-executive producer Lisa Wolfinger, and UVa history professor Gary Gallagher as a moderator. The series premieres on PBS on January 17, but the first episode is screening at the film festival 6:30pm on Friday Nov. 6 at UVa’s Culbreth Theatre.

Ithaca is Meg Ryan’s directorial debut. She also acts in it, alongside Alex Neustaedter, Sam Shepard, Tom Hanks and others. Neustaedter plays Homer Macauley, a determined bike telegraph messenger who sets out to be the fastest and most reliable member of his field. His older brother is out fighting in the Second World War and so the 14-year-old Homer is left to help care for his widowed mother and his younger siblings; he assumes responsibility for them while also dutifully delivering telegraph messages all over his hometown of Ithaca, California. Set during the spring of 1942, the messages young Homer delivers are replete with the wartime sentiments of love, longing, and despair, all of which echo his own personal struggles as he comes of age during this uncertain period. This is another film that was shot and produced on land in central Virginia, this time in Petersburg, VA. It is based on The Human Comedy, a novel by William Sayoran. Director Meg Ryan will be around after the screening for a panel discussion with producer Janet Brenner, and actors Alex Neustaedter and Lois Robbins. 7:00pm, Friday November 6 at the Paramount Theatre downtown.

Born on the Fourth of July is a critically-acclaimed and commercially successful film that originally debuted in 1989. It’s directed by Oliver Stone and co-written with Stone and a fellow Vietnam War veteran Ron Kovic, on whose autobiography the film is based. It stars Tom Cruise in his first Academy Award-nominated role. Cruise plays Kovic, a young, idealistic American man who enlists in the Marines and fights in the Vietnam War. The film depicts Kovic’s struggles with reconciling his principles and vaguely Christian morality with the horrors of the war. He makes mistakes, sustains injuries, (both physical and psychological), and has to come face to face with himself and the people he has harmed. His disillusionment with both the war and America’s reasons for taking part, crops up steadily after he returns to America, to the youthful dissatisfaction and societal upheaval of the late 60s and early 70s. Born on the Fourth of July is considered part of Stone’s Vietnam “trilogy” along with Platoon and Heaven and Earth. Stone himself will be in attendance at the film festival, and he will be part of a discussion with UVa history professor Robert Toplin. 1:30pm, Saturday Nov. 7 at the Paramount Theater.

Faust is probably the oldest film that will be shown at this year’s film festival. Debuting in 1926, the German film was directed by F.W. Murnau. It’s an adaptation of Goethe’s Faust. The demon Mephisto makes a bet with an archangel, contending that he can corrupt the soul of a pious man. Satan inflicts a village with a terrible, sweeping plague and the righteous alchemist Faust is filled with despair at his inability to stop the destruction. Mephisto swoops in to tempt Faust, offering the alchemist youth a cure for the plague, in exchange for his eternal soul. This timeless story is depicted with hazy, somnolescent surrealism by Murnau who directed films like Nosferatu. In a unique, interdisciplinary offering, this silent film will play along with an original score, written by local trumpeter John D’earth and performed by the UVa faculty jazz band The Free Bridge Quintet. 8:00pm, Saturday in Old Cabell Hall on UVa Grounds.

In addition to many other films, (some old, new, borrowed and blue) the Adrenaline Film Project has been an integral part of the Virginia Film Festival for awhile. 10-12 teams of three filmmakers are given 72 hours to write, cast, shoot, edit, and screen a short film (3-5 minutes in length). Everything (except for music) must have been generated during this 72-hour period…meaning no found footage or B-roll from previous sessions. They are supervised at each of these stages by “mentors” who work in the film industry. The process ends with a competitive screening of the selected films at UVa’s Culbreth Theatre on Saturday, November 7, 2015, at 9:00 p.m.

If you’ve got some younger film critics in attendance, it’s good to know that Saturday, November 7th is Family Day at the Virginia Film Festival. This segment of the festival takes place during the day on Culbreth Road, between Rugby and University Avenue. Some of the events include a free screening of Pixar short films. If you’ve ever seen a longer Pixar picture, you’re likely aware of some of the innovative short films that have preceded films like Up! or Wall-E. The screening includes Pixar short films from 2007-2012; it’s completely free and unticketed. There are also some free workshops led by UVa faculty and students and community members. They go over topics such as audition techniques, music in movies, make-up and style, etc. There’s also a “Musical Petting Zoo,” put on by the Cville Symphony and UVa Orchestra, and a host of other events. We hope you’re as excited as we are about one of Charlottesville’s most exciting annual events!

Yet Another Reason to Move to Charlottesville

sidewalk-cafe-53318_1280Charlottesville is on the list of countless “Best Small Towns in America” lists due its beautiful landscape, university community, and cultural scene. Why not add yet another great reason to the list?  This summer, Charlottesville joined the elite group of US Gigabit Cities. Now what in the world does that mean?

“Gigabit Internet service refers to data uploads and downloads of up to a gigabit (or 1,000 megabits) per second. For those without an engineering degree, that is very, very fast. It puts Charlottesville on par with other pioneering US cities like Chattanooga, Tennessee and Lafayette, Louisiana, along with world-leading cities like Seoul, Stockholm and Tokyo. It creates a huge competitive advantage for Charlottesville businesses. It allows every member of a Charlottesville household to be streaming, gaming, video conferencing and browsing at the same time. It facilitates healthcare and fosters education.”

The service is provided by Ting, a  subsidiary of Tucows Inc. If you live in the Charlottesville area, you can enter your address on Ting’s local website to see if your neighborhood or street has received service.

This map posted in September 2015 shows the current areas and future roll-out plans for the city:

Map from
Map from

Ting anticipates to have coverage for the entire city of Charlottesville by the end of 2016.

What excites us most at Gayle Harvey Real Estate is the link between Gigabit service and home values.  Having homes (and an entire city with the infastructure) installed with the fastest internet available in the world is sure to increase property values!

The installation fee is approximately $400 but sure to be an upgrade to your property with a high ROI.

We are excited to see how quickly the service expands to service the neighboring counties.

Virginia Ranked #1 Best State in Which to Retire

If you’ve lived in Virginia a while, you’ve probably known this all along. But for those unfamiliar with or thinking about moving to the Old Dominion, know this: Virginia has been rated the best state in the country for retirees. This retirement index, compiled by the financial firm LPL Research, evaluates a state’s “retirability” based on the following six factors that are weighted differently:

1. Financial (35%): cost of living, median household income, private sector retirement assets, state pension funds relative to pension obligations/tax burden
2. Healthcare (20%): Access to, cost of. Healthcare expenditures and % of 45-64 covered by health insurance
3. Housing (15%): Home ownership rate, median home price list/rent list price, nursing home costs
4. Community Quality of Life (10%): # of heating days, % of home foreclosures, % of people with over 60 minute commutes, % of people living in poverty, violent crimes per 100,000 people
5. Employment and Education (10%): % of 45-64 year olds with college degrees, % of employees with health insurance
6. Wellness (10%): life expectancy, % of adults over 18 who are physically active, who are smokers, who are obese

Virginia was ranked 1st in community quality of life, 5th in financial, 10th in employment and education and 1st overall. So let’s take a look at the things that prospective retirees consider when choosing a place to relocate, and what makes Virginia a good fit.

The New York Times cites a report which estimates that as many as “57% of baby boomers say they plan to move into a new home in retirement” (Hanon ). It makes sense; this is a brand new phase of your life, and the circumstances that made your old home ideal may no longer be in play. The things you wanted in a locale in your 20s and 30s are not the same things you need out of your residence now. Of those 57% surveyed, 39% said they wanted to relocate to a small town or rural community. There are many offerings in Virginia, from the sprawling central Virginia estates in Albemarle or Orange counties, to the small-town feel of homes in Charlottesville.

Weather is among the top considerations for people looking for a suitable retirement destination. This is one of the reasons why older people tend to settle down in the southern and western states. Compared to humid places like Florida, Virginia’s climate is pretty mild. The summers can be hot but they aren’t brutal, and are often interspersed with breezy days. The winters aren’t brutal, colder than some of our neighbors to the south but nowhere near the frigid temperatures of the northern states.

There are also numerous things to do throughout Virginia. Nelson County’s Crabtree Falls, for example boasts the highest vertical drop east of the Mississippi. Its first overlook runs along a low-key paved trail for hikers of varying experience, and there are more challenging hikes as well. From slow, meandering drives amidst the scenic vistas and pastoral landscapes of the Blue Ridge Parkway to the thriving, hollows of the Shenandoah National Park, there are so many ways to enjoy the natural beauty of this state.

The real estate taxes in Virginia vary by county but are comparatively low. The state and local taxes end up being about 5.3%, a little more for the localities that make up Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads. The cost of living gets higher as you move closer north, but you could do a lot worse than Virginia. The median value for a home is about $230,000.

The unemployment rate is also pretty low in Virginia: 4.8%. At first it may sound counterintuitive to think about working in the place where you’re going to retire. But many retirees, current and future say they plan to work during retirement. Merrill Lynch published a study which states that “47 % of today’s retirees say they either have worked or plan to work during their retirement years. Moreover, the number of retirees who work will escalate in the years ahead, with 72% of pre-retirees age 50+ now saying that their ideal retirement includes work in some capacity” (Merrill Lynch). This doesn’t necessarily mean getting a 9-5 and commuting. Even if the work is unpaid/on a volunteer basis, being employed has been linked with a greater sense of well-being. “Work gives us a sense of purpose, feeling connected and needed. It makes us feel relevant. It’s hard to pin a precise paycheck to that, but it’s real.”

Moreover, it keeps our minds sharper. Researchers from the RAND Center for the Study of Aging and the University of Michigan published a study showing that cognitive performance levels decline faster in countries that have younger retirement ages” (Hanon 2) . You don’t just have to work. You can also learn more. Were you to find a nice small farm in central Virginia, or a home around Charlottesville, you could make use of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at the University of Virginia. You could also take advantage of the seasonal job market, getting an easygoing gig during the summer while all the students are out of town. Did we mention Virginia was ranked 10th in LPL’s employment and education category?

So there you have it. The experts agree that for people planning to retire, Virginia is your best bet. Relocating here affords you warm weather, reasonably priced homes, and a bounty of natural splendors. You can foster your continued growth through a variety of channels: working, volunteering or going back to school. The pace of life is very malleable. The pace of life here moves with you. If you want seclusion and privacy, you could get a small farm in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains; there are several nice offerings available in Nelson, Greene, Madison and Albemarle Counties. If you want a thriving community of various ages and backgrounds, consider a home in Charlottesville, where live music, theatre and sports are close at hand. The only thing you need is an appreciation for natural beauty and a thirst to make the most of out life. After all, Virginia is for lovers.