Where We Live: Lansdowne on the Potomac, in Virginia's Loudoun County

By Amy Reinink
Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, July 31, 2010

The first thing house hunters typically notice about Lansdowne on the Potomac is the neighborhood's aesthetic: the manicured lawns, the landscaped common areas, the decorative street signs and the manmade waterfall near the entrance.

Next, they notice the amenities, such as the 30,000-square-foot Potomac Club, which boasts indoor and outdoor pools, exercise and aerobics rooms, a business center and meeting rooms, and a ballroom.

Then they may notice the proximity to the Potomac River, the ease of accessing commuter roads such as Route 7 and the family-friendly environment.

"We bought our house here after we saw all the amenities Lansdowne has to offer, and when we saw the kind of people who were walking around -- lots of families, but with a good mix of empty-nesters and other folks, too," said John Whitbeck, 34, a lawyer in Leesburg who serves as president of the Lansdowne Homeowners Association Board of Directors. "You're close to the river, you're close to restaurants -- you've got everything you need right here."

Development of Lansdowne on the Potomac, with 1,442 houses and 713 townhouses between Route 7 and the Potomac in eastern Loudoun County, started in the late 1990s, with most residents arriving in 2003 and 2004.

John Beckley, 43, a district manager for Potbelly Sandwich Works, said the community's new homes with modern design features were a major factor in his decision to move into a five-bedroom house there earlier this year.

Beckley, who had lived in Montgomery County his whole life, said he and his girlfriend, Vivian Lee, looked at houses in Potomac and Bethesda but were turned off by high prices for houses that were a few decades old.

"I was very impressed with the newness out here, and just with how beautiful the community is," Beckley said. "The common areas are accessible and user-friendly. All the amenities are close to state-of-the-art. It just felt like the kind of new development I could not find in Maryland."

Though Lansdowne on the Potomac is relatively new, it has already established a bevy of traditions, including a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving, an Oktoberfest in the fall and a holiday party in winter.

The homeowners association sponsors a summer concert series in the neighborhood's amphitheater on Saturday nights throughout the summer.

"Everyone brings lawn chairs and sits in the amphitheater to listen to these great local bands," Whitbeck said. "Local vendors come with food, kids run around and play, and it's just a great family activity."

Though the association's board of directors is made up of neighborhood residents, they pay a full-time general manager and other staff members to handle such things as adherence to covenants, facility maintenance and groundskeeping. Residents say having such a highly organized homeowners association has pros and cons.

"What's great is that we have a cohesive, consistent community that's well maintained," Beckley said. "The downside is that it can be restrictive at times."

Other drawbacks to living in Lansdowne on the Potomac are mostly related to the distance from downtown Washington -- a roughly 40-mile trek.

Before moving to Lansdowne, "I was much more centrally located in Maryland, but it's a trade-off I was willing to make," Beckley said. "This place is a good fit for someone who doesn't mind going further out. You really can get a heck of a lot more house for your money than you can closer to D.C."

The neighborhood is a bit far from Washington, but that doesn't mean it's void of entertainment options, with shopping, restaurants, movie theaters and other diversions conveniently located.

"The number of retailers we have nearby is amazing," Beckley said. "We have a Wegmans, a Costco, a Bonefish [Grill] and all sorts of other good restaurants and high-end shopping within a few miles."

Plus, Whitbeck said, being removed from Washington isn't necessarily a bad thing:

"We have the accessibility of a typical Northern Virginia suburb, but we're tucked away far enough that we get an escape from the hectic life we all live in the D.C. area."

That's one of many factors that contribute to a sense that the neighborhood is family-friendly, which helped draw Lisa Picciolo to Lansdowne on the Potomac six years ago.

"I really liked that there were so many families with kids," said Picciolo, 41, a real estate agent with Weichert's Gierer-Picciolo Team and a mother of twin 7-year-old boys. "There's a great sense of community among the families here."

That's a draw even for residents who don't have kids.

"It's a bedroom community, and it feels like a bedroom community -- friendly and quiet," Beckley said. "This place is a breath of fresh air."

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