Great Neighborhoods: Metro makes Ballston a walkable urban village

|
Real Estate,Mike Unger

Ballston is one of Northern Virginia's fastest growing urban villages, so named because its extensive mixed-use development incorporates residential, retail and office space.

 

"I don't have a car, so I've been relying on public transportation," said Ben Jordahl, who moved to Ballston from his native South Florida in July. "It's really easy to get around. It's much quieter than Miami, which I like. It's a lot safer here."

Ballston has blossomed in the 32 years since Metro's Orange Line station opened, said Karen Vasquez, public relations manager for Arlington Economic Development.

At a glance
March 2011*
Average sold price for homes sold in ZIP code 22203: $344,670
Average list price for homes sold in ZIP code 22203: $351,057
Average days on market for homes sold: 57
March 2010*
Average sold price for homes sold in ZIP code 22203: $457,017
Average list price for homes sold in ZIP code 22203: $468,354

Average days on market for homes sold: 57

 

*reflects sales data from 20 or fewer properties

The community primarily was residential before developments such as the Ballston Common Mall and Kettler Capitals Iceplex boosted its popularity and visibility. When Vasquez first called Ballston home, no one from elsewhere in Arlington County would say they were from "outside of Ballston," as many of her neighbors now do.

"It's an incredibly walkable community," she said. "It's an urban setting, but still has that residential feel. It has lots of high-rises, mid-rises, townhomes, and single family homes."

Many Ballston residents rent, said Kelly Shooshan, chief operating officer of the Ballston-based developer Shooshan Co.

That doesn't preclude the area from having a distinct sense of community, however, which is apparent during the annual Taste of Arlington food festival, set this year for May 22 primarily along Wilson Boulevard in front of the mall.

"It creates a social environment for people who are relocating into the area," Shooshan said. "The major [business] tenants are attracted by the mixed-use density that allows for the live-work environment."

Alun Jones' firm rented an apartment for him in the Meridian building on the corner of Stuart Street and Wilson Boulevard. The Londoner likes the convenience of the area.

"The Metro's right there, the mall's right across the street," he said. "You've got pretty much everything you need."

The Shooshan Co. has been developing Ballston for 25 years and one of its major projects is Liberty Center, a condo development Zack Kovolenko bought into in 2006.

"I love the urban feel," Kovolenko said of his neighborhood. "I don't have to deal with the traffic because I use the train. There are some great restaurants and entertainment options at night. It helps the quality of life."

Ballston also is known by most Washingtonians as the home of a big mall, Ballston Common, which houses the National Hockey League's Washington Capitals. The Kettler Capital Iceplex sits atop the mall's parking garage and features two rinks, workout facilities and the team's offices.

It's a gleaming facility that hosts Caps practices, which are open to the public, as well as amateur figure skaters and hockey players -- and people who just skate for fun.

The core of the community is centered on the Metro station. Around the corner from the elevators are several bus stops. The mall is only a few blocks down Stuart Street, as are local favorite restaurants like the Front Page.

Just outside of Ted's Montana Grill on the corner of Wilson and Glebe sits a historical marker detailing the origins of the name Ballston.

Originally called Birch's Crossroads, the area later was named for the Ball family. The intersection at North Glebe Road and Wilson Boulevard dates back to the 1740s, making it among the oldest in Northern Virginia. By the early 1800s it was known as Ball's Crossroads because it was the site of Ball's Tavern.


Top Reasons to live in Ballston

Transportation

The Metro's orange line station links Ballston to downtown Washington. That, and the extensive bus service, means a car isn't necessary.

Shopping

Ballston Common mall houses anchor stores like Macy's, stalwarts like Victoria's Secret, movie theaters, a food court and even a gym.

Hockey

Kettler Capitals Iceplex is a state-of-the-art facility where fans can watch the NHL team practice. There's a souvenir shop, food options, and an interactive kids' zone. When the Caps aren't using the facility it's open to the public for a fee.

View article comments Leave a comment