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After the flipping, the families return

The Foxridge neighborhood, a community of traditionally styled houses built in the late 1980s and flanked by parkland, embraces both the familiar and the outdoorsy sides of Leesburg.

Kirsten Umstattd, the mayor of Leesburg, has lived in Foxridge with her husband and daughter since 1987. “We fell in love with Foxridge when we first saw it,” she says. “With the houses set down in small clusters around shared pipestem drives, and so close together, Foxridge has always reminded me of an English village.”

The 208 homes in the neighborhood’s “village” feature gabled roofs, lap siding and divided-light windows. Houses are modestly sized; recently sold models range from 1,800 to 2,229 square feet. They have two to four bedrooms; not every house has a basement. Garages hold one or two cars, and streetlamps line the community’s two roads along with mature trees, which provide a canopy in warmer months.

Those trees are an apt symbol for the large role nature plays in the neighborhood, which bisects Foxridge Park. One side of the park has a creek and a footbridge, and the other features an open field with play equipment and a picnic pavilion. Access to these outdoor spaces keeps residents attuned to natural cycles of falling leaves and filling creeks after heavy rains. “It’s how our kids keep track of the seasons,” says Jill Drupa, who has lived in Foxridge with her husband and two children since 2006. “They know every inch of the park, every tree. They even named one tree ‘Lucky.’ ”

Along with the park, the Washington & Old Dominion trail borders the neighborhood, adding another gateway to the outdoors. The W&OD is a 45-mile multi-use rail trail running from Arlington to Purcellville and owned and operated by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority. Foxridge dwellers use the W&OD for dog walking, bike riding and jogging. The 68-acre Audubon Naturalist Society’s Rust Nature Sanctuary is also less than a mile away.

In hot weather, Foxridge’s residents say, the neighborhood pool becomes their gathering spot. Homeowners pay for membership through association fees, which are about $68 a month and include services such as pool management, landscaping and snow removal.

Of course, living around an hour from the District has its drawbacks for commuters. But for drivers with offices in Herndon, Reston or downtown, Foxridge offers quick access to Route 7 and the Dulles Greenway.

Considering the neighborhood’s pool, park and aesthetic appeal, residents believe it offers good home value. Drupa says families such as hers were able to afford a single-family home here rather than a townhouse elsewhere: “We skipped the whole townhouse thing. It was an affordable single-family home.” Real estate agent Paul Herrick, who has sold houses in the neighborhood, concurs. “The homes are valued at more the nice-townhouse range,” or around $300,00, he says. “Without sharing walls, you have your own garage and your own driveway.”

But some families note that Foxridge homes typically come with smaller lots than residents will find in Leesburg’s farther corners.

Foxridge was built during the housing boom of the late 1980s. Three brick-front homes near the entry to the neighborhood display the original vision.

Then the developer went bankrupt. Pulte Homes took over around 1987 and created the layout of the more traditionally styled lap-siding homes that the community features today.

Fox­ridge began as a family community. In the 1990s, people started buying the homes as investments, and that changed the character of the area, said David Drupa, Jill’s husband. He currently serves as vice president of the housing association. He and his wife bought their home during the peak of the latest housing bubble, and by 2008 prices had dropped.

“People started putting down roots here again,” he said. Now, there is a higher percentage of owners. “People are putting money back into their houses rather than flipping and moving.”

Some residents say they can gauge the neighborhood’s changing mix by measuring the number of trick-or-treaters at Halloween.

For the first 10 years of living here, Umstattd says, Halloween would send plenty of kids to her door, all asking for candy. Then came a lull, as families with growing children moved to larger homes in other neighborhoods. “There’s now a new wave of young families with little children, and trick-or-treating was busier this year than we’ve seen it for the last 15,” she says.

Residents say that on the other 364 nights of the year as well, Foxridge offers a unique friendliness. “It is nice to live in a community [where people] still say ‘hello,’” says Rod Ellis, who has lived in Foxridge for seven years. “People walk around the neighborhood, and you know the mail­person by their first name.”

Eliza McGraw is a freelance writer.


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