A profile of North Arlington's Yorktown neighborhood in the June 5 Where We Live section contained several errors. The article should have said that a friend of the Haring family took Sally Haring -- not the family friend's wife -- to see a building lot. In a photo caption, the statement that the neighborhood has "location plus" was incorrectly attributed to Sally Haring; the statement was made by her husband, David Haring. In another caption, Lila Weiser's name was incorrectly given as Lisa. (Published 6/8/04)
Six years ago, after a year-long house search, Sally and David Haring ventured into the unfamiliar realm of "tear-downs" to move to North Arlington's Yorktown neighborhood.
A family friend knew a homeowner eager to sell a small rental house on a half-acre lot across the street from Chestnut Hills Park, in the heart of the community. On a snowy winter day in 1998, he took his wife to see the place, hinting that the steep slope of the property might be a negative in building a new house.
Sally Haring thought otherwise. "He was thinking 'cliff,' " she said, laughing, "but I was thinking walk-out basement."
The couple, self-described "consummate do-it-yourselfers," razed the small house, then acted as general contractors for construction of a 6,000-square-foot beige, stuccoed French Colonial. "We went to great lengths to find a style that would fit the neighborhood," said Sally Haring, a financial analyst and amateur beekeeper.
The six-bedroom home includes a two-story entry hall with a floor of granite from South Dakota, the couple's home state. Sally Haring helped design the floor's starburst pattern. An arched, 6-by-6 stained-glass panel with a floral motif that sits above the front door was created for the Harings by a friend.
Tear-downs and in-fill houses are a fact of life in Yorktown, with its abundance of smaller homes on lots averaging about 10,00 square feet.
Since the Harings built their house, about a dozen other in-fills or tear-downs have gone up within a few blocks, said David Haring, now president of the Yorktown Civic Association.
"The neighborhood has had significant investment from homeowners, businesses and the county government," said Haring, an information technology professional. "This has fueled growth here, and the association tries to make sure this is a positive thing for the neighborhood."
Those investments are triggered, in part, by the community's proximity to pedestrian-friendly shopping and recreational areas. Three parks and two pools sit within the neighborhood's boundaries. Many residents are within walking distance of the newly renovated Lee Harrison Shopping Center; warm nights often entice them to head for the Baskin-Robbins ice cream parlor there. The center includes a Harris Teeter grocery store, and a Safeway is just across the street. The aging, eclectic Garden City shopping area is a few blocks east, on Lee Highway.
"The neighborhood has fantastic recreational facilities, it's an easy commute to major employment areas, it's convenient to stores, and it has great schools," Haring said. "It's 'location plus.' "
That "location plus" enticed Janice and Carl Weiser to move from Alexandria's Del Ray neighborhood to Yorktown in 2001. The Weisers were expecting their second child and wanted to find a house in Arlington so their children could attend the county's highly ranked schools.
With a budget of less than $400,000, and after bidding unsuccessfully on two houses in the Yorktown neighborhood, the Weisers finally snatched up a 2,200-square-foot 1947 Cape Cod before it went on the market. The house is near the Garden City shopping area, where homes are primarily brick Cape Cods and Colonials built in the post-World War II period.
"We loved Del Ray's architectural diversity," said Janice Weiser, a writer and editor. "Here, there's more of a cookie-cutter look on the outside. It's not as interesting." But, Weiser added, many of the interiors of the homes have been modified and individualized.
More important, Weiser discovered "there are tons of families with kids." Soon after her daughter was born, she joined a neighborhood play group. She regularly visits what she calls the Lee Harrison "stroller Starbucks," which can be packed with parents and young children.
Although there is no library within walking distance, many residents frequent nearby Aladdin's Lamp children's bookstore for story hours.
Weiser said Yorktown offers many opportunities to meet others. "My husband plays poker with the neighbors, there's a Halloween party, and a caroling party at Christmas. . . . When I was without power for a week, the woman across the street microwaved macaroni and cheese for us, a staple of my kids."
Eight years ago, on the northern side of the 1,050-home neighborhood, lawyer B.G. Brooks and her husband, Terry Costello, bought a Cape Cod with original sections dating back more than 100 years.
The house needed updating: Its tiny main-floor bathroom had two entrances, and the kitchen, with its blue Formica countertops, had no dishwasher or full-size range. But the couple put off renovations as their family grew. When Brooks had to put her third child's crib on the upstairs landing because there was no room for a nursery, the couple considered a move.
"We debated about moving out further and buying a larger home, but we really like our neighborhood," said Brooks.
Last fall, with their children ages 1, 2 and 6, the couple began a major renovation. The baby now has a nursery. The remodeled kitchen gleams with new cabinets painted off-white and fire-engine red, in striking contrast to sleek countertops of honed black granite and vanilla Corian.
A new family room offers built-ins and plenty of space. But it's an old apple ladder that will hang in her kitchen that makes Brooks most happy.
The 13-foot ladder, built narrower at the top than at the bottom, and missing one rung, was a gift from Brooks's mother, who lived near an apple orchard in North Carolina. "My mother bought it for our house," said Brooks. "She looked at our renovation plans and she knew just where the apple ladder would go."
The ladder, which will be suspended horizontally over the family's new breakfast bar, will hang in memory of Brooks's mother, who passed away recently, before the renovations were completed.