Dunn Loring is an oasis of quiet suburban streets, shade trees and single-family houses west of McLean and Arlington in Fairfax County.
Roughly two square miles, it “has retained a small town feeling,” said Del. Mark L. Keam (D-Fairfax), despite close proximity to major traffic corridors and commercial centers.
Streets curve, and a sense of privacy prevails. Houses are a mix of 100- to 200-year-old clapboard structures, some that are 50 years old and others built more recently.
Frank Blackstone and his wife, Alison, who graduated from Falls Church High School, have lived in the neighborhood since 1999. They built an all-brick, three-level Colonial in a wooded cul-de-sac.
“Schools were a huge reason we moved here. They are flat-out awesome,” he said. “When my son Kent, who’ll be a junior, first went to New Mexico State University, he was well prepared.”
Julia Pasmanik also said good schools were important to her family — husband Paul and children Victoria, 13, and Alexander, 11 — when they moved into a two-year-old brick contemporary Colonial house in 2006. “Saving commuting time was a plus, too,” she said. “Everything we need is a short drive. We’re close to the city but far enough away to have a nice back yard.”
Community organizing: Dunn Loring Park, with its trails, grass, picnic areas and ball courts, “is a very mini version of the national Mall,” said Keam. “Lots of kids show up and play.” The W&OD Trail crosses the community and is popular among joggers, strollers and dog walkers. A tennis clinic in Merrifield is a perk to Roger Shoemaker, an 11-year resident.
Another “hidden little gem” is the Dunn Loring Pool off Cottage Street, said Blackstone. The pool also has basketball and volleyball courts and a snack bar.
Shoemaker, his wife, Robin, and their children, Justin, 6, and Lexi, 4, live in an 11-year-old, three-level brick house with a deck and a small yard. They like the family-oriented feeling of the neighborhood. Even though they tend to cook at home a lot, there’s “a network of people we tap into for babysitting when we want to go out with friends,” he said.
“The community is friendly, tight-knit, active and organized on civic matters,” said Keam, who in his day-to-day job is an attorney with a tech company. “Over the years, residents raised concerns about some commuters breaking speed limits as they rush toward the entrance of I-66; bad paving conditions on residential streets; and inadequate sidewalks for kids. I heard their concerns and we were able to obtain Fairfax County and state resources to make those safety improvements.”
Plenty of shopping options: The Mosaic District is the latest hip destination for urban entertainment, shopping, dining, living, walking and easy parking.
Construction workers are still hammering away, and a yellow crane towers above the neighborhood as this mixed-use development of low-rise buildings nestled in between Lee Highway, Gallows Road and Route 50 continues to grow.
But Dunn Loring residents can easily catch a film at the Angelika Film Center & Café, get a massage or people-watch from wooden benches perched on wide sidewalks.
“It’s so convenient,” said Sondra McFadden, a resident and real estate agent. “You can easily run in, pick up your olive oil for cooking and chocolates for dessert. The developers have really tried to think ahead to living in the 21st century.”
Whole Foods Market, Trader Joe’s, Safeway and Giant are also close and collectively offer thousands of grocery products. Tysons Corner Center has hundreds of specialty and department stores.
Living there: Dunn Loring, Zip code 22027, is bordered roughly by Leesburg Pike on the north, Interstate 495 on the east, Interstate 66 on the south and Gallows Road, Electric Avenue and Cedar Lane on the west.
The community consists mainly of single-family dwellings and a few townhouses.
According to Sondra and Justin McFadden, real estate agents with McEnearney Associates in McLean, eight properties are for sale, ranging from a four-bedroom, 31 / 2-bath single-family dwelling priced at $799,000 to a six-bedroom, 51 / 2-bath single-family structure priced at $1.6 million.
Six properties are under contract, ranging from a three-bedroom, two-bathroom single-family house at $520,000 to a six-bedroom, 51 / 2-bath single-family home at $1.2 million.
In the past year, 24 properties sold, ranging from a three-bedroom, two-bathroom single-family house for $475,000 to a four-bedroom, 41 / 2-bath single-family dwelling at $995,000.
Dunn Loring’s real estate is assessed at a lower tax rate than adjacent communities because it is located outside of the tax zone created in January 2013 to support development at Tysons Corner.
Transit: The community’s proximity to major commercial and retail locations locally and to downtown Washington is a prime amenity to residents. Entrances to Interstates 495 and 66 are minutes away. Leesburg Pike/Virginia Route 7, which traverses Northern Virginia, is also close.
Three Metro stations are nearby — Dunn Loring-Merrifield and West Falls Church-VT/UVA on the Orange Line and the forthcoming Silver Line.
Schools: Cedar Lane and Stenwood Elementary; Joyce Kilmer and Thoreau Middle; George C. Marshall High.
Crime: According to the Fairfax County Police Department, there were 12 assaults, four burglaries, 13 reports of property vandalism, six drug violations, three motor vehicle thefts and one robbery during the past 12 months.
Audrey Hoffer is a freelance writer.