Residents of Arlington's North Fairlington neighborhood will consider as early as this week a developer's proposal to buy a tract of land in their neighborhood to preserve it from commercial development.
The proposal comes at a time when it appears likely that two office buildings will be constructed on another parcel of land two blocks away, to the consternation of residents who have expressed worries about increased traffic and parking problems.
The south Arlington neighborhood is a mostly residential enclave of about 3,500 colonial-style town houses and condominiums.
However, residents say they are feeling the impact of office and shopping projects in adjacent Shirlington and Alexandria.
Fairlington Properties has offered to sell the half-acre lot at South 31st and South Abingdon streets to the residents for $425,000, said Ron Thornhill, a member of the board of directors of the North Fairlington Unit Owners Association.
The condominium association plans to poll owners of the 1,703 units in North Fairlington this month, Thornhill said.
A purchase would have to be approved by a majority of the homeowners, he said.
The purchase would be financed through either a one-time assessment based on unit size or a loan on which homeowners would pay monthly installments, he said.
Thornhill said that the proposed price was "a very fair offer" and that he favors such a purchase.
"We are a residential community," he said. "To have further commercial development would increase traffic and detract from the residential character of the area."
The original price of the lot was $550,000, but it was lowered to put it within easier financial reach of the homeowners, said Edwin S. Clarke, president of Fairlington Properties.
"I'd love for them to have it," Clarke said.
The lower price is being made to the homeowners "and to them alone," he said.
"We won't sell it to the general public at that price."
Fairlington Properties also owns land at South 31st and South Columbus streets and this month filed for building permits for a pair of two-story office condominium buildings on the site.
Clarke said the offices would be rented to professionals such as doctors, lawyers and accountants.
He disputed claims that the development would greatly increase traffic.
"I don't think it'll have any great impact," he said. "We would not do anything to harm the community. We own the most property in the community."
But residents say traffic is a concern particularly because the streets in the area are so confusing.
"We have circles and triangles and nubs," said Bob Gray, vice president of the Fairlington Citizens Association.
Drivers unfamiliar with the area tend to get lost easily, increasing the likelihood of auto accidents, he said.