As Richard Tri lounged on a wooden bench on a recent sunny Saturday in the heart of one of Fairfax County’s most popular and fastest-growing areas, he seemed at a loss to describe the transformation that has occurred in just a few short years in the Merrifield neighborhood.
The old shops and worn-down storefronts that for years dotted the streets ringing Merrifield were replaced “seemingly overnight,” he said, by luxury condo buildings, an artisanal juice bar and several grocery chains.
“I’ve lived here for 10 years, and I still can’t believe how much this area has changed,” said Tri, who lives in a two-bedroom, two-bathroom townhouse. “If you want to eat healthy, you can easily do that, and if you want a little junk food, it’s right at your fingertips, too.”
Tri’s surprise at the breakneck pace of development in Merrifield is not without justification, said John McNamara, a vice president at TTR Sotheby’s International Realty who has tracked the local real estate market for years.
“The growth in Merrifield over the past 10 years has exponentially outpaced that of any other area” nearby, McNamara said. “Merrifield has added more housing units and retail options than other surrounding areas and has become a destination point within such a short period of time.”
McNamara is quick to point out that other once-struggling neighborhoods, such as Washington’s Shaw and Trinidad, “that were similarly overlooked took 10 years to gain traction. Merrifield took off in three years,” he said.
Transformation: How a once-industrial unincorporated area, known more for its warehouse-style multiplex than for sleekly designed buildings and boutiques, became a shining example of a modern urban area, albeit one wrapped in suburban skin, provides proof of the converging power of targeted economic development mixed with a little luck, McNamara said.
It didn’t hurt, he added, that Merrifield was within walking distance to a Metro station and close to major road arteries.
If public transportation represents Merrifield’s arteries, the nearby Mosaic District — a 31-acre site with a hotel and more than 70,000 square feet of office space — provides the oxygen that helps make the entire body function, McNamara said.
Jordan Corrie said he followed Merrifield’s transformation closely. So by the time he was ready to move, about two years ago, he knew the area fairly well and understood exactly the type of amenity-rich neighborhood into which he’d be buying.
Still, said Corrie, who settled on a 900-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bathroom condominium, Merrifield has surpassed his wildest dreams.
“I thought I knew what to expect since we had a good idea of what was here before we moved, but you can’t put a price tag on being so close to the Metro and restaurants and parks,” he said.
If Corrie represented the hyper-informed buyer, Alex Guest was on the opposite end of the spectrum, she said.
A stay-at-home mom, Guest said her family selected Merrifield because it was a 10-minute walk to the closest train station and allowed her husband, who works in downtown Washington, to have a convenient and stress-free commute to his office.
“I figured the fact that I could still have some yard for a price that wouldn’t break the bank was a bonus,” said Guest, who lives in a 2,200-square-foot, four-bedroom, three-bathroom split-foyer home.
Living there: Merrifield is bordered by Interstate 66 on the north, the Capital Beltway on the east, Arlington Boulevard on the south and Lee Highway and Nutley Street SW on the west.
In the past 12 months, 262 properties have sold in Merrifield, ranging from a 732-square-foot, one-bedroom, one-bathroom condominium for $125,000 to a 6,370-square-foot, six-bedroom, eight-bathroom Colonial for $1.27 million, said McNamara, vice president with TTR Sotheby’s International Realty.
There are 31 homes for sale in Merrifield, ranging from a 929-square-foot, two-bedroom, one-bathroom condominium for $194,000 to a 4,000-square-foot, four-bedroom, four-bathroom Arts and Crafts-style home for $1.3 million.
There are 27 homes under contract in the neighborhood.
Schools: Fairhill Elementary, Jackson Middle and Falls Church High.
Transit: The Dunn Loring-Merrifield Station on Metro’s Orange Line serves Merrifield. Metrobus’s 2A route also serves the community.
Crime: Since January, there have been 36 assaults, three stolen vehicles and one robbery reported in the service area that covers Merrifield, according to Fairfax County police.