When it comes to Ballston in Arlington County, Va., Chris Rojahn said he likes to think of himself as a living version of a Wikipedia page, chronicling the neighborhood’s every change.
Standing recently near the busy intersection of Fairfax Drive and North Stuart Street in the heart of Ballston, Rojahn, who moved there in 1995, said he remembers when the nearby building that houses the Nature Conservancy, a global conservation organization, was an empty lot.
There wasn’t always a Harris Teeter grocery store on North Glebe Road, and a number of eateries, shops and office buildings have sprouted in the 22 years since he’s moved to the neighborhood, he said.
“I knew that with a Metro station nearby, those empty lots wouldn’t last long, but I didn’t anticipate all the commercial changes,” said Rojahn, who lives in a 700-square-foot, one-bedroom, one-bathroom condominium.
According to the Arlington County Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development, Ballston’s place as a destination spot with an abundance of retail options was by design.
About 30 years ago, planners worked to create a downtown area in central Arlington. The fact that Ballston was home to a major transportation hub helped accelerate those plans.
Today, Ballston is home to a number of recognizable companies and institutions, including the Virginia Tech Advanced Research Institute, Marymount University and the NHL Washington Capitals’ practice facility at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex.
Streets are bustling at night: Keri Shull, a real estate agent with Optimé Realty, said that with an array of amenities, it’s easy to see why Ballston is one of the area’s hottest markets.
“Ballston is desirable for many different demographics but it appeals to families because there are great trails and public parks, in addition to a sense of community and easy access to shops,” Shull said.
Kevin Isserman moved to Ballston from the Florida Panhandle about a year ago to attend graduate school. He said he didn’t know much about the area but took a chance based on a friend’s recommendation. He hasn’t been disappointed, he said.
“I came for school and found a great place to live in an amazing location,” said Isserman, who’s enrolled in a master’s degree program at George Washington University, and moved last year to a three-bedroom, three-bathroom townhouse on Washington Boulevard. “I’m glad I chose to live here,” added Isserman, who also considered moving to Silver Spring and Rockville in Maryland.
For Scott Schulman, a graduate student at George Mason University, the convenience of not “having to drive much and having lots of stuff around,” was enough to convince him to move to an 800-square-foot, one-bedroom, one-bathroom condominium on Randolph Street.
Jessica Hardy, who moved to Ballston in 2013, said that she regularly walks late nights from her job with the nonprofit Amazon Conservation Team, which is about a tenth of a mile from her two-bedroom, two-bathroom townhouse. The area, always bustling with restaurant-goers, feels safe and neighborly, she said. “I’ve never felt threatened.”
“Last Christmas, I passed a house on my way home that had a ton of delivery packages from Amazon,” Hardy said. “The boxes stayed outside the gate to the house for a while and nobody touched them. Somebody eventually moved them inside the gate, but those gifts were safe.”
Living there: The neighborhood is bounded roughly by Interstate 66 to the north, Quincy Street to the east and North Glebe Road to the southwest.
In the past 12 months, 254 properties have sold in Ballston, ranging from a 477-square-foot, one-bathroom studio condominium for $255,000 to a 2,448-square-foot, four-bedroom, five-bathroom traditional house for $1,550,000, said Shull, the real estate agent.
There are 12 houses for sale in Ballston, ranging from a 642-square-foot, one-bedroom, one-bathroom condominium for $339,000 to a 2,123-square-foot, three-bedroom, four-bathroom condominium for $1,200,000, Shull said.
Schools: Ashlawn Elementary, Swanson Middle and Washington-Lee High.
Transit: Ballston is within walking distance of the Ballston-MU Station on Metro’s Orange and Silver lines. The station serves as a transfer stop for Metro buses.
Crime: In the past 12 months, there have been six robberies, five burglaries, three assaults and three reports of stolen vehicles in Ballston, according to Arlington County police.