The Quaker Commons apartments in Alexandria are not part of the Fairlington historic district, but their low-rise brick construction, six-over-six mullion windows and lantern-motif signs stylistically suggest their better-known neighbor.
The seven garden-style brick structures, built in the 1940s, are on the eastern edge of Fairlington and Park Fairfax. Those neighborhoods maintain the World War II-era look partly because of their historic designation.
The apartments were renamed from Quaker Lane Apartments to Quaker Commons shortly after a recent renovation, according to Vienna-based owner KSI Services Inc.
KSI strove to tie into the historic look of the area with such elements as lighting fixtures and signs, said Richard I. Knapp, KSI senior vice president. The lantern logo on the signs emulates the architectural style of Fairlington, "a wonderful model" for brick, low-rise design, Knapp said. The units also have the same style of windows as Fairlington.
Quaker Commons is near the busy intersection of three major Alexandria streets: Quaker Lane, King Street and Braddock Road. The property abuts T.C. Williams High School to the east and is across the street from the Virginia Theological Seminary campus. There are shops nearby at the Bradlee Shopping Center and, across Interstate 395, at the Village at Shirlington, which also has a movie theater, and restaurants. Metrobuses stop in front of the apartments.
KSI Services bought the 98-unit complex in 1998 for $3.92 million and began the first major renovations on the buildings in 1999. Rents are meant to be affordable by moderate-income working families, and there are maximum-income limits that vary by family size.
One challenge of the renovations was retaining residents while improving the property. Residents who stayed throughout the renovations received a rent break "in the $25 range" Knapp said.
To provide periodic updates to the large number of Central American families in the community, KSI used Spanish-speaking personnel.
Residents Ramiro Garcia and Jenny Ramos say they have been happy with their home. They arrived after the renovation, so they did not receive the rent break that some their neighbors did, but they find the rent manageable.
They said they like living in a community that is close to shops and I-395, and also like the feeling of being in a Spanish-speaking enclave. The garden-style setting is tranquil, they said, and their daughter enjoys the tot lot.
They said they do not have more than the normal security concerns, especially because, to enhance the safety of the property, a courtesy officer lives on site.
Though many Quaker Commons residents take the bus or Metro and do not own cars, the 100 spots in the parking lot sometime fill up. In this case, overflow parking is available during non-school hours at T.C. Williams. Each unit receives two parking stickers, so if a family has more than one car, up to two cars can park in either of these two lots during the specified hours.
All of the apartments have two bedrooms. When property manager Joyce Recto receives requests for three-bedroom apartments, she refers them to KSI's nearby Cameron Commons and Crestview Commons.
Recto, who speaks Spanish and English, is relatively new to Quaker Commons, but quickly observed the tight-knit community there. "A lot of the residents know each other" and look after each other, she said.