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Old Town Commons: The newest address in Old Town

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Real Estate,Audrey Hoffer

A new neighborhood in Old Town Alexandria offers a fresh alternative to the historic old homes that surround the community's cornucopia of shops and restaurants.

"I wanted a kind of city feel," said Christa Pladsen, an early resident of Old Town Commons. "I love to walk. I found living further out in the suburbs didn't fit my lifestyle. Here it's not even half a mile to the river, beautiful parks and trails."

Old Town Commons is in the heart of Old Town and was designed, developed and named by EYA. It occupies five blocks bounded by First Street, North Columbus Street, Wythe Street and North Patrick Street.

Statistics for ZIP Code 22314
Average list price for all homes sold in 2012: $621,060
Average list price for all homes sold in 2011: $535,628
Average list price for all homes sold in 2012: $608,301
Average sold price for all homes sold in 2011: $524,835
Average sold price for attached properties in 2012: $607,484
Average sold price for attached properties in 2011: $488,045
Average days on market in 2012: 48
Average days on market in 2011: 72

The development encompasses 155 townhome units and 76 condominium apartments. Roughly 75 units are occupied, and construction is ongoing. Prices begin at about $675,000.

On a recent autumn day under blue sky and bright sun, the quiet was broken by hammering and banging. Hard-hatted workers ran to and fro on a low structure with window holes and no roof.

The neighborhood originally sported low-rise red brick subsidized housing stock

"We knocked down everything that was there," said David Ortiz, EYA sales manager, "and are redeveloping these five blocks with LEED green construction."

"We replaced old houses with brand-new ones and energy-efficient appliances," he said.

There are 9-foot ceilings, huge windows and open floor plans. Units are airy, spacious and look out onto quiet streets. The three-level townhomes form a kaleidoscope of pale yellow, slate blue and charcoal.

Integrated throughout the community are affordable rental homes available to qualified former residents through a program administered by the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority, said Preston Innerst, vice president of sales and marketing at EYA.

Framed by the commercial North Washington Street thoroughfare, the neighborhood is close to many of Old Town's amenities and shops.

A sweet aroma wafts from the Asian Wok Cafe. A florist, frame shop, dentist and watchmaker are next door. The steps of Aquilano Salon are decorated with pots of yellow chrysanthemums and a pumpkin. A new Harris Teeter is under construction, and Trader Joe's and Giant Food stores are close by. The Braddock Metro station is three blocks away.

Joanna Rubini, manager of Rubini Jewelers, a 26-year-old establishment, said many customers are from the neighborhood.

Across the street, a FedEx office sits besides Starbucks, which hugs an outdoor courtyard with blooming red and white begonias.

"I love it here. It's a good area. On Saturday and Sunday, locals bring their children. It's a great place to hang out," said Starbucks manager Abdullahi Hassan.

"A lot of different things are happening in Old Town," Pladsen said. "The city is trying really hard to integrate all the neighborhoods, keep the culture that's here and make it beneficial for all of us."

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