Luxury-class town houses, long a staple in Georgetown, Boston's Beacon Hill and a few other classy enclaves, have been proliferating anew in this area.
New rowhouses can be bought for $200,000 and up in Old Town Alexandria, at Merrywood on the Potomac, in Forest Hills in south Arlington and at Twining Court, Westover Place and at elsewhere in Northwest Washington -- to name those that come quickly to mind. Generally, this market has been good, fueled by the demand of affluent couples exchanging larger houses for more convenient properties.
In the past 18 months, 23 couples have bought houses in The Glebe in north Arlington, a small community of clustered town houses being built by Gruver & Cooley. The Washington partnership, which has roots here going back to 1909, has built houses in a number of locations, including Bethesda's Walnut Woods and Luxmanor sections and Greenway Heights and Timberly in Virginia.
Luxury town houses are a new product for this firm, which made its last major step up when it started building $50,000 detached houses in 1963.
The Glebe, when competed next year, will have 30 town houses on eight acres that were assembled over the past 15 years and sold to the builders by Robert Groom, a second-generation Arlington Realtor. The site also includes Groom's own large house and another older house that has been completely restored. Residents of The Glebe will share a tennis court and four acres of open land on North Tazewell Street between Glebe Road and Old North Glebe Road.
Years ago, the land belonged to the nearby Walker Mill Methodist Church, which dates to 1840. Groom said some members of the Walker family still live in the area, which includes some small, older homes as well as newer, expensive homes, now priced up to $450,000, in Chain Bridge Forest and Country Club Hills. The Glebe site is halfway between Washington Golf & Country Culb and Chain Bridge.
Prices at The Glebe (a word that means a "lump of earth" and also "church land") begin at $230,000.Among the residents are Aaron and Virginia Stoner, whose children have grown and gone. Stoner is a partner in G & C along with D. C. Gruver, 85, and Emery Cooley.
Other buyers include Dr. Robert Gruver and Dr. Clifton Gruver, whose father was one of the founders of the building firm. Steven G. Yeonas, a former builder who is now a realty investor and developer, is nearly ready to move with his wife into a house in the development.
Realtor Groom, who is handling sales, said that Adm. Elmo Zumwalt Jr., retired chief of naval operations, plans to buy a Glebe house and return to this area from the Midwest.
Veteran architect Wilfrid Worland designed the traditionally styled, three-level Glebe houses, which are built in clusters of three to seven.
Some of the quiet ambience of the low-density, wooded neighborhood is created by the church's hillside cemetery, which overlooks The Glebe.
Several of the end units at The Glebe have master bedrooms on the first floor. This provides the option of mosty one-level living for a couple who could have two other bedrooms on an upper floor and a big family room and fourth bedroom on the lower level. Elevators are standard features in all of the Glebe houses but they can be deleted for a credit of $8,500. Each "Elevette" carries up to 450 pounds, has a phone extension and can be hand-pumped during a power failure.