July 21, 2017 at 7:00 AM
After spending time with friends who lived not far from the Braddock Road Metro station in Alexandria, Teri and Phil Gennarelli decided to look for houses in that neighborhood.
They had been renting a two-bedroom Cleveland Park apartment in the District since 1999 but wanted to buy a house.
After searching online, they went to open houses for about 18 months. They eventually found an attached rowhouse with a yard and moved in three years ago.
For the Gennarellis, a one-car family, the neighborhood met just about all their needs.
"We like the walkability, the access to everything," Teri said. "It's really convenient." They have a choice of three nearby supermarkets, including a Whole Foods Market, a Trader Joe's and a Harris Teeter, all within walking distance.
Since moving into the neighborhood, the Gennarellis have added a bedroom to the two-bedroom rowhouse. Phil commutes to work at Deloitte in Rosslyn, while Teri is a full-time mother. Both are 40. Their daughters are 4 and 6.
Teri's only concern is that Metro trains arrive at the Braddock Road Metro station less frequently than they did when they first moved to the area.
More density: Braddock Metro has been and still is in the midst of change.
The northern part, closer to the Braddock Road Metro station, is shifting from predominantly industrial to more residential development, with high-rises closer to the Metro station.
"It's in a huge transition," said Judy Noritake, president of the Braddock Metro Citizens' Coalition.
The southern section, closer to Cameron Street, already has undergone change with more retail stores arriving. "This part of the neighborhood already has transitioned," said Leslie Zupan, a past president of the West Old Town Citizens Association, referring to the area between the Braddock Road and King Street Metro stations on the Blue and Yellow lines. Zupan has lived in the area for 37 years.
The Braddock Metro Neighborhood Plan of 2008, one of 18 Small-Area Plans that help control the type of development in each part of the city of Alexandria, has aimed to find "the right balance between preservation and change" in this area where the Metro stations opened in 1983.
"This Plan is about writing another chapter in the story of this great neighborhood," according to plan documents. "It focuses on preserving and enhancing those aspects of the neighborhood that are beloved — its traditional scale and character and walkable streets — while at the same time helping the neighborhood adapt to emerging opportunities and challenges — the changing nature of its diversity, the increased importance of transit, and the evolving value society places on sustainability."
"New development in the region is focused around Metro stations," said Jeffrey Farner, the city's deputy director of planning and zoning. The changes closest to the Braddock Road station have been consistent with those near other Metro stations around the Beltway, he said, with the tallest buildings typically closest to the Metro station and shorter structures farther away.
The area also includes the Parker-Gray Historic District, several public housing developments and parts of historic Alexandria. The Alexandria Black History Museum is in the neighborhood at 902 Wythe St. across from the Charles Houston Recreation Center, a city facility at 901 Wythe St.
The Parker-Gray Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. High- and mid-rise rental buildings as well as condominiums and low-rise townhouses have sprung up in the past 10 years or so.
For example, two luxury rental buildings opened in 2013 and 2014 near the Braddock Road Metro station, on the site of an early 20th-century glassworks, the Belle Pre Bottle Co., aptly named 1111 Belle Pre. If you ride the elevator to the roof, you'll encounter an expansive view of Alexandria as well as a pool and a landscaped rooftop terrace. The south building has five floors with 94 apartments; the north building has seven for a total of 266 apartments.
The Braddock Neighborhood Plan calls for the eventual relocation of a third of public-housing residents to other parts of Alexandria. Mixed-income housing and ground-floor retail are in the works. So far, a few new retailers have opened in the northern part of the area.
"We're trying to make it better," said Noritake, an architect. She and her husband, Rae, also an architect, raised their daughter, now 32, in the area. Five years ago, they moved from an apartment above their architectural firm in Old Town to a townhouse closer to the Braddock Road station. Noritake welcomes the additional density in the area. "Density brings us the things that we want — good retail, good open space, good design," she said.
Living there: The Braddock Metro neighborhood is bounded roughly by Columbus Street to the east, Cameron Street to the south, West Street to the west and First Street to the north.
In the past 12 months, according to Toni Larios, an agent with Fairfax Realty, 124 properties have sold in the area, ranging from a 1940 cabin for $189,000 to a four-bedroom, four-bath 1906 townhouse for $2.032 million.
There are 20 properties on the market, ranging from a contemporary one-bedroom, one-bath condominium for $339,977 to a traditional three-bedroom, three-bath townhouse listed for $974,900.
Transit: Metro options include the Braddock Road Metro station to the north and King Street to the south. There also are Metro buses as well as the Alexandria Transit Company's DASH buses.
Schools: Jefferson-Houston (K-8), George Washington Middle and T.C. Williams High.
Crime: According to the LexisNexis Community Crime Map, in the past 12 months, there were 10 robberies, nine burglaries and seven aggravated assaults in the area, as reported by the Alexandria police.
To see more photos of Braddock Road, go to washingtonpost.com/realestate.