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Conviviality reigns in Kings Manor

The townhouse community in McLean, Va., is known for its annual celebrations and weekly gatherings

The Kings Manor neighborhood of McLean, Va., with 195 townhouses at its center, offers compactness balanced by intermittent green spaces. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

Located within walking distance of downtown McLean, Va., the Kings Manor neighborhood offers the benefits of high-density living in the middle of suburban Northern Virginia. Developed in the late 1960s, it has 195 townhouses at its center, but its compactness is balanced by intermittent green spaces. The vibrant community is known for its annual celebrations and weekly gatherings.

Many residents choose Kings Manor for its convenience to downtown Washington, Maryland and other parts of Northern Virginia.

“You can’t beat” the convenience, said Diane Miller, a Keller Williams real estate agent who is a 24-year resident of the neighborhood. “We’re like seven lights from D.C.”

Families with children choose the neighborhood for the public schools, which are regarded as some of the best in Virginia and are within walking distance. The Millers raised two boys in Kings Manor. They often found it was more practical for the boys to walk to school than get a ride because of morning traffic.

Compared with homes in the surrounding areas, the Kings Manor townhouses are an affordable way into the school area that feeds into Langley High. The median home price is $867,000; homes in the surrounding neighborhoods range from $1 million to $10 million, according to Miller. However, the sales prices for Kings Manor townhouses are creeping higher. One recent sale of a remodeled townhouse reached almost $1 million. It sold for $965,000 after being listed for $899,900.

Although several dozen detached, single-family homes are on the neighborhood’s periphery (and are included in its activities), the townhouses form the heart of Kings Manor. The community falls under the supervision of two homeowners associations. Fees for the Kings Manor Association are $480 per quarter; fees for the Second Kings Manor Association are $420 per quarter. Fees go toward trash removal, road maintenance, landscaping and snow removal, said Matt R. Dougherty, treasurer for the first HOA and a resident since 2013. The difference between the two is parking. The first HOA has street parking. The second HOA has parking lots.

Although the townhouses were built in the Colonial Williamsburg style, there are variations, said Dougherty. Some have painted brick. Some have gable roofs; others have mansard roofs.

“It was very thoughtful the way it was done. It’s not just a cookie-cutter, repeat approach,” Dougherty said. “They really took a lot of effort to maintain that individuality and uniqueness.”

The architectural board for the first HOA ensures that developer Ken Thompson’s original vision remains intact, though the rules allow for sustainability updates such as adding solar panels.

HOA fees also fund projects like the 2017 redesign of the neighborhood park, which has a playground, a basketball court, a flower patch with shrubs and benches, and an open green space shaded by mature oak trees.

The Talwars’ home looks out onto the park. When they moved to the neighborhood in 1998, the couple expected to leave for a bigger house after having kids, but never did.

“Once we got to know people in the neighborhood, we got comfortable with the area, the location, we were like, ‘We have enough room. We don’t need more space.’ ” Marie Talwar said.

The Talwar children found plenty of friends in Kings Manor.

“There were so many kids in this neighborhood, we would all take turns just doing fun things with them,” Talwar said. In the evenings after school, they would block off the street for the children to play hockey. They also organized movie nights.

The adults are also tightknit. On the Talwars’ block, there is a tradition of getting together every Friday at 5 p.m.

“Rain, shine, snow, sleet, hurricanes, we come out and get a drink and just say hello,” Talwar said. The gatherings may last hours or only 10 minutes, but no matter their duration, neighbors come out to say hello.

Other blocks around the neighborhood have their own traditions, as well. Dougherty said some have a rotating backyard happy hour; Miller said others have a pig roast.

Neighborhood-wide traditions include an annual Easter egg hunt and a Fourth of July parade. Halloween in Kings Manor draws trick-or-treaters from across Northern Virginia. The celebration includes a costume competition, with prizes for the scariest, funniest or most creative get-up.

“When covid hit, it’s the thing I’ve heard most from people about what they miss,” Dougherty said. “Very few places today have that sense of community, especially in the greater D.C. area, where it’s a very transient community.”

Living there: According to Miller, of Keller Williams, the neighborhood’s boundaries run along Baron Road to the north, Pine Hill Road to the east, Route 123 to the south and Churchill Road to the west.

Miller said 10 homes have sold in the Kings Manor area in the past nine months — seven townhouses and three detached houses. Townhouse sales ranged from a four-bedroom, three-bathroom home for $812,000 to a four-bedroom, three-bathroom home for $965,000. Detached house sales ranged from a three-bedroom, three-bathroom house for $989,999 to a four-bedroom, three-bathroom home for $1.25 million. The median home sales price for townhouses was $867,000; for detached houses, it was $1.1 million. There are no properties for sale.

Schools: Churchill Road Elementary, Cooper Middle, Langley High.

Transit: Kings Manor is a 10-minute drive from the McLean Metro station, or a 25-minute bus ride on the Fairfax Connector.

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