Where We Live: Fairlington, born in World War II and marching ahead

April 4

Fairlington, an Arlington County community that edges into the city of Alexandria, was built by the U.S. government in the 1940s for military and other federal employees amid a housing shortage caused by World War II.

Even after it was sold to two businessmen in 1947, Fairlington remained one of the preferred locations for many newly elected or appointed government officials. The neighborhood is just a five-minute drive from downtown Washington and the Pentagon.

The community takes pride in its past and has a plaque commemorating its history. Fairlington was listed in the Virginia Landmarks Register in 1998, and a year later it was listed with the National Register of Historic Places.

“We appreciate the history, the fact that it was defense personnel housing, and we appreciate the efforts the community makes in preserving the historical buildings,” said Janet Cho, who has been a Fairlington homeowner for three years.


Demographic diversity:
Fairlington’s name combines Fairfax and Arlington, the counties where it was located before Alexandria annexed its portion of Fairfax.

A wide range of residents live in what is now a condominium complex with both townhouses and apartment-style units.

Fairlington has seen significant demographic changes over the past three decades, according to Guy Land, president of the Fairlington Citizens Association. He said in the late 1970s and early 1980s, most of the residents were in their 30s, with almost no families with youngs children and very few people over age 55. Today, he said, residents are on both ends of the age spectrum.

As a bonus, Bic DeCaro of Westgate Realty Group said, the neighborhood is also ideal for homeowners with pets. This past Sunday, many residents were out walking dogs of all sizes in the rain.

“It’s great for pet lovers,” she said. “There are no restrictions on size like in other condos.”


Living there:
Fairlington’s boundaries are King Street (Route 7) to the southwest, Quaker Lane to the southeast, and, roughly, Walter Reed Drive and the Village at Shirlington shopping center to the north. Interstate 395 runs through the community, dividing North Fairlington from South Fairlington.

The brick townhouses and garden-apartment buildings are in the Colonial Revival style. They hold one-, two- and three-bedroom units ranging from 750 to 1,800 square feet, said Reggie Copeland, manager of Long & Foster’s Fairlington office. There are about 25 floor plans. Some have recreation rooms and dens; all have living and dining rooms.

For instance, the Georgetown floor plan is approximately 922 square feet and comes with a living room, dining room and kitchen on the first floor and two bedrooms and a full bathroom upstairs.

In the past 12 months, 183 homes sold in Fairlington, ranging from a 1,008-square-foot one-bedroom unit priced at $215,000 in a distressed sale to a 1,800-square-foot three-bedroom unit priced at $589,000, Copeland said. Thirty-seven homes are now on the market, 22 of which are under contract. The 15 active listings range from a one-bedroom unit selling for $265,000 to a two-bedroom unit priced at $445,000, Copeland said.


Recreation and shopping:
Fairlington has no shortage of things to do.

Some of the community associations offer their own tennis courts and swimming pools. Additionally, the Fairlington Community Center and Park has playgrounds, picnic shelters, basketball courts, walking trails and an amphitheater.

On Saturday morning, the streets will be filled with runners and spectators for the annual Fairlington 5K race.

“A lot of the appeal is just because it’s a huge community with nice amenities,” DeCaro said. “They have a lot of fun, and there’s a nice sense of community.”

There are plenty of shopping, dining and entertainment options — including a Harris Teeter, a movie theater, and the Carlyle and Guapo’s restaurants — a few minutes away in Shirlington.


Transit:
Fairlington has no Metrorail station, but bus service is plentiful via Metrobus, Arlington’s ART and Alexandria’s DASH. Arlington Transit’s Shirlington Bus Station is neaby.

Carisa Crawford-Chappell is a freelance writer.

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