Page 1



SPRING 2017 | PAGE 13

Real Estate Spring 2017

Is There a Future for Cottage Communities in the Little City? by Sam Tabachnik

Wilbern Architects — submitted a proposal to build 10 cottage homes and a shared community house at 1006 Railroad Avenue, alongside the Washington and Old Dominion Trail. These “Railroad Cottages,” as the developers coined them, would be single-family homes, approximately 1,500 square feet, and laid out so they all face a common grassy area. In its application to the City, the group used a projected value of $595,000 per cottage. The developers have proposed the project as age-restricted housing for residents 55 and older, according to Twiford, real estate agent and director of land use and development at Advon Real Estate

Falls Church News-Press

At its Feb. 13 meeting, the Falls Church City Council adopted an ordinance permitting the construction of age-restricted single-family cottage communities, designed to give older residents alternative housing options as they look to downsize but remain in the Little City. The ordinance was approved by a 6-1 vote with Mayor David Tarter dissenting. Four days after City Council adopted the ordinance, a team of local developers and realtors — Theresa Sullivan Twiford, Bob Young, Joe Wetzel and Butz

in Falls Church. This type of housing, she says, would give the City a much-needed middle option between large, million-dollar homes and apartments or condos. Several members of the Council immediately took to this idea of a middle-ground housing choice for Falls Church residents looking to stay in the City after their kids finish school and no longer live at home. “When this first came forward, a bunch of us on the Council saw this as a great housing option for residents who are empty-nesters,” councilmember Phil Duncan said. “We hear people say, ‘we want to stay in Fall Church, we love the community, and it’s not just


(Photo: Jeremy

Bittermann/The New York Times)

about the schools. But I don’t need five bedrooms and a huge house and I’m not ready to move into a condominium.’ People like to be able to walk out their front door and put their toes in the ground, similar to a single-family home, but without all the upkeep.” While residents of the Railroad Cottages would be 55 years and older, Twiford is “trying to stay away from the word ‘senior.’” “We don’t want this to be a retirement community,” she says. “We want it to be vital and walk-

able and full of life and community.” A key element of the cottage house community would be the proposed common house, a shared space for “anything from a casual gin and tonic on Friday afternoon to a large formal Thanksgiving gathering,” Twiford says. The impetus behind the cottage community ordinance came from Twiford’s experience on the West Coast.

Continued on Page 15

MORE INSIDE: An Architect’s Shifting Focus page 17 | Northern Virginia Home Expo Returns page 14 | F.C. Home Sales #s pages 18–19 SOLD IN 2016

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PAGE 14 | SPRING 2017

THE NORTHERN VIRGINIA HOUSING EXPO, now it its seventh year, returns March 18. (Photo: Cameron Carey, Communi-k, Inc.)

Northern Virginia Housing Expo Returns This Month by Patricia Leslie

Falls Church News-Press

This year marks the seventh annual Northern Virginia Housing Expo designed to educate and inform home buyers and apartment seekers. Set for Saturday, March 18 at Sterling’s Dominion High School in Loudoun County, the free expo will run from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. and offer free financial counseling, exhibits, workshops and the chance

to talk with professionals in the housing and lending industries. The City of Falls Church is teaming up with non-profit organizations and other Northern Virginia municipalities to put on the expo. There will be roughly 75 bankers, lenders, real estate companies, lawyers and government agencies with staff members available to talk with attendees. According to expo manager, Laura Nickle, the expo has grown a lot, with attendance expected to

reach 1,000 this year. Falls Church exhibitors include the City’s housing and human services division and Rebuilding Together, which works to improve the lives and dwellings of lowincome homeowners. Britepaths, a non-profit group that helps families and individuals strengthen their financial footing, will offer free 30-minute individual counseling sessions. Attendees can also bring credit reports to speed up assistance advice. For those who may be crowded out of individual sessions, meetings after the expo can be arranged, Nickle said. The workshops will include sessions on readiness to buy or rent, credit scores, personal finances, market overviews, and financial assistance. There will be a heavy focus on helping firsttime home buyers and renters. Brian Matt, the public relations manager for the Virginia Housing Development Agency, a platinum sponsor for the expo, said the “expo provides the attendees with an excellent forum to learn about the array of programs and services from the private, non-profit and public sectors promoting housing opportunities in Northern Virginia.” VHDA Associates will staff a display booth with information about homeownership programs, Matt said. The Virginia Housing



This completely overhauled and expanded FALLS CHURCH CITY home offers much of what you would expect from a new build, yet with the warmth and charm of the cottage it once was.

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FALLS CHURCH NEWS-PRESS | FCNP.COM not including utilities. Two one bedroom/one bath “luxury apartments” at the West Broad Residences above the new Harris Teeter Supermarket are listed as “affordable dwelling rental units” on Falls Church’s website and go for $1,520 per month plus utilities and other costs. Every year, Falls Church usually has about 25 condos and townhomes for sale which meet program requirements to qualify for first time buyers but none are available now, Lewis said. Local government agencies “really, truly care about people having the information they need [to buy or rent a home],” Nickle said. “The biggest complaint we get is, ‘why don’t we have [the expo] more than once a year?’” Other expo co-hosts are Fairfax-based nonprofit AHOME Foundation, and the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors. More information is available at, Northern Virginia Housing Expo on Facebook or at 571-294-8536. Applications and more information about the Falls Church’s affordable housing program may be found at www.fallschurchva. gov/692/rental-assistance. The expo will offer free shuttles to the event every 30 minutes from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. from the Spring Hill Metro station in Tysons.

Search initiative will also be there to provide information about available rental housing opportunities. “Our support and participation in the NOVA Expo represents an important part of our outreach efforts in the region to promote homeownership and rental housing opportunities,” Matt said. While Falls Church has no public housing units, several apartment complexes offer “affordable” accommodations to those with incomes generally ranging between 50 and 80 percent of the area’s median incomes, said Dana Lewis, housing program analyst for the City’s division of housing and human services. “Moderate” incomes that satisfy requirements to apply for the City’s lower cost housing generally fall between $38,010 – $60,816 for single individuals and $43,440 – $69,504 for a two-person family, Lewis said. Priority in the city’s program is given to senior citizens, those who live or work in Falls Church, and those with disabilities. Applicants must be U.S. citizens and meet other requirements. Only two applicants qualified for a lottery held yesterday in Falls Church for a one-bedroom, one-bath 839 square foot affordable apartment at Pearson Square on South Maple. The apartment is $1,140 per month with an additional $75 for parking and does

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SPRING 2017 | PAGE 15

Cottage Housing in Falls Church

Continued from Page 13

While living in Takoma, Washington, several years ago, Twiford drove by a neighborhood of quaint, bungalow-style units clustered together. She was struck by the idea of small, single-family homes in a communal setup and immediately went home to do more research. “Pocket communities,” as these developments are sometimes called, were popularized in southern California in the 1920s and ‘30s and appear frequently in the Pacific Northwest, but are uncommon on the East Coast. Twiford moved to Falls Church and brought the vision of a Little City cottage community with her. She pitched it to residents and City groups over the last few years, culminating in last month’s ordinance. Due to the novelty of this type of development, City planning staff and Council took a conservative approach to the ordinance. According to several people involved in its writing, the ordinance includes tight restrictions on how many proposals can be submitted, and where these cottage communities can be built, to allay fears that these developments

would spring up all over town. As such, the cottages are restricted to low density zoning districts and must be within 500 feet of a revitalization area (such as Broad Street or Washington Street). In order to keep the number of projects to a minimum, the ordinance was written as a “pilot program,” limiting developer applications to just one per year. The Twiford, Young, Wetzel and Butz Wilbern Architects’ application was the only one the City received, senior planner Carly Aubry said, meaning the City cannot consider any new proposals until the current application has been withdrawn, approved or denied. The ordinance also states that within three years of enactment, the City Council will reassess the projects and decide whether to continue, amend or repeal the ordinance. Some community members, however, are still concerned by aspects of the new project. Mayor David Tarter, the lone member of the council to vote against it, said that while he’s “not against cottage housing per se,” he believes the ordinance needed more refinement to make sure there wouldn’t be any “unintended consequences.”

“It’s a new concept,” Tarter said. “It’s new to Northern Virginia, new to many parts of the country. I wanted to spend some additional time before we start approving these things.” Tarter added that the council did not get time to review the “significant amount of changes” staff had made to the ordinance between the first and second readings, as well as a chance to discuss a letter from the Falls Church Village Preservation and Improvement Society (VPIS) expressing its concern over several details. Mark Gross, president of VPIS, shared some of the mayor’s qualms over a lack of parking space in the development, as well as the provision allowing cottages to be set back 20 feet from the public street while the minimum for normal residential homes is 30 feet. VPIS also advocated that the Council “approve one project and see how it works out before approving another.” The one-yearbetween-approval clause, the letter to the Council stated, “is simply not enough time to permit the first project to be built and significantly occupied for a period of time sufficient to see what the impacts of this sort of housing are on the neigh-

AN ILLUSTRATION OF the proposed cottage community for the City of Falls Church. (I�����������: C������� T�� Y���� G����) bors and on the City generally.” Twiford has heard these reservations and misgivings and acknowledges that with a unique project like the Railroad Cottages, the pressure is on for it to be successful.

“If it’s done poorly, it would ruin it for a lot of communities around here,” she says. “We are approaching this with sense of responsibility that this has to really be good for the City.”

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PAGE 16 | SPRING 2017

R EA L E STATE A Falls Church News-Press Advertorial


Meet Falls Church’s Real Estate Experts B������ E����, L��� � F�����

Bethany is a hard-working, ethical and detail-oriented market leader in real estate. She serves all of NOVA and is now licensed in D.C. Bethany is a full-time real estate agent who will communicate with you and listen to you. Throughout the entire process, she will deal with any hiccups while valuing your input. From your first meeting until closing, Bethany will ensure your experience is enjoyable and seamless. Bethany’s goal is to build a long-term relationship with her clients so she can help you, your friends and your family, for years to come. When you are ready to buy, sell, invest, move up or downsize, contact Bethany. Her expertise and experience will help guide you through the complexities of the real estate market.

Bethany Ellis, Long & Foster, McLean Sales Office, 1355 Beverly Road, Suite 109, McLean, VA 22101 703-307-7003 •

M������ K���, M�E������� A��������� Falls Church City is my family’s home, and I have had the privilege of being a REALTOR here since 1970. My husband Art and I raised our children here and I’m delighted that my daughter Karin Kaye Morrison joined us in the business. I remain as passionate about serving the needs of my clients today as I was the day I started. And that’s because it’s not just about selling homes — it’s about selling the unmatched quality of life we have in Falls Church and being a committed member of the community. I served on the Falls Church City Historic Commission and the BIE, I was a founding member of the Friends of Cherry Hill, and am president of Historic Falls Church. For years I served on the Mt. Daniel Library Committee putting on Book Fairs featuring famous children’s book authors. I love Falls Church, and the fact that I have had the opportunity to serve many of my clients, and their children, multiple times is the strongest testimony that I have the knowledge and the marketing and negotiating skills to assure your smooth home buying or selling experience. It has been my privilege to have sold more real estate in The City than anyone. There is no substitute for experience and passion.

Merelyn Kaye, McEnearney Associates 1320 Old Chain Bridge Rd., Suite 350, McLean, VA 22101 703-362-1112 •

T��� M�K�����, K����� W������� As a resident of the Little City for nearly two decades, Tori believes a sense of community requires active participation, and she leads by example. She actively supports: Falls Church City Schools, Business in Education, Falls Church Education Foundation, Falls Church Chamber of Commerce, FIRSTFriday/Art-a-Lot, Tinner Hill Blues Festival, Falls Church Arts, and Taste of Falls Church. Tori is also Vice Chair of the Housing Commission, a member of Business in Education, named Pillar of the Community by the Falls Church Chamber, named one of the Top Producing Real Estate Agents by Washingtonian Magazine, North Virginia Magazine, and for the 5th consecutive year, has been voted Best Real Estate Agent in the Falls

Church News-Press “Best of Falls Church.” As a tireless Falls Church advocate, Tori has helped countless families buy and sell homes over the past 12 years. Tori puts her heart and soul into the Falls Church community and gets so much in return. When you’re ready to buy or sell your home, call Tori, your Falls Church expert.

Tori McKinney, ROCK STAR Realty, Keller Williams Realty 2101 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22201 703-867-8674 •

L����� M�����, RE/MAX W��� E�� For the past 20 years my family and I have been fortunate to live and work in Falls Church City and I believe my extensive local knowledge and passion for the community is what sets me apart in this industry. Last year marked a milestone in my real estate career as I opened RE/MAX West End in downtown Falls Church City, with the mission to provide the highest level of client service and expertise to our community. My team and I support our clients at every turn, from first time home buyers to experienced investors, from downsizing to relocating. I know that every situation is unique but the one constant is my commitment to excellence and exceeding your expectations! If you are thinking of buying or selling, or just want some real estate advice, please call me today at 703-244-1992 for a no obligation, confidential meeting.

Louise Molton, Broker/Owner of RE/MAX West End 710 West Broad St., Falls Church, VA 22046 703-244-1992 •

C���� S����, F������ R����� A Falls Church REALTOR and resident, Colin has specialized in residential real estate throughout Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. since 2007. With many years of experience as a Graphic Designer and in a leadership role in 4 and 5 Star hotel environments, Colin brought a firm grasp on high level proactive client care, and an understanding of design and aesthetics. Skills that have proved indispensable in preparing homes for sale, preparing marketing plans to generate the best results possible for home sellers, and in working hand in hand with his clients along the way. In a time when many homes sell in the first or second weekend it can be tempting to sit back and allow the market to do most of the work. It is Colin’s belief that, even in this environment, a carefully prepared home, a carefully crafted marketing plan, and a hands on marketing launch can still make a notable difference to a home seller’s bottom line. As marketing best practices have changed over the years, Colin has tracked with these changes, adding a higher quality of photos & videos for selling clients and adapting online marketing approaches accordingly. EcoBroker certified, Colin is passionate about the “Green Home” & energy efficiency movement. He also looks forward to doing more volunteering in “The Little City” with his wife and four kids now that the kids are a bit older! Keep an eye out for Colin and his crew around town, they’ll be the convoy of scooters and tricycles. Please do say hello! Colin Storm, Keller Williams Realty Falls Church 105 West Broad Street, Suite 200, Falls Church, VA 22046 (c) 703-638-9144 • (o) 703-533-5300 •

A Falls Church News-Press Advertorial

K�� T������, C������� B�����

When you have a home to sell, give yourself the advantage of working with a Top Selling Agent who has strong ties to the Falls Church community. Ken has lived in Falls Church for more than a decade and is an active member of the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce. Drawing from his experience as a former litigating attorney, Ken believes in making his client’s interest his sole focus in any transaction and embraces his role as a Trusted Advisor and Advocate for his clients. Ken is among the Top Tier of Falls Church real estate professionals, having sold Falls Church’s most expensive residential sale in 2016 at $2.05 million and second most expensive residential sale in 2015 at $1.75 million (based on data provided by MRIS). With more than 20 years experience in the real estate and legal industries, Ken believes in raising the bar in every transaction to deliver only exceptional service and top results. With a deep understanding of the local real estate market and community, Ken develops a custom marketing plan for each of his listings. Through his affiliation with Coldwell Banker, Ken has access to exclusive high-end advertising that spans from hyper-local to international audiences. Due to his custom marketing plans, Ken and his listings have been featured in our hometown favorite, the Falls Church News-Press, as well as The Washington Post, Curbed, and DC Magazine. If you are selling your home, you deserve to work with a Top Selling Agent. So, contact Ken. Ken Trotter, J.D., Realtor, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage 4500 Old Dominion Drive, Arlington, VA 22207 (c) 703-863-0650 • (o) 703-524-2100•

T������ S������� T������, A���� R��� E����� Theresa has 20 years of real estate acquisition, sales and development experience. Having earned some of the highest sales in Virginia over the last five years, Theresa’s talents place her in the upper echelons of real estate professionals. Theresa is active in the Falls Church City Chamber of Commerce, Falls Church Education Foundation as well as other local organizations. Talented and innovative, Theresa brings a fresh look at real estate and development not just for her clients, but for the region as a whole. Currently, her business partners and she are developing an innovative cottage community in Falls Church City. Some of Theresa’s strongest capabilities are understanding the implications of the zoning code, seeing possibilities in overlooked properties and pursuing thoughtful infill development. Theresa is highly adept at her craft and she is one of the few who can see beyond what most would not take a second look at – this and her professionalism are why she is not only a top-tier realtor but also the Director of Land Use and Development at Advon Real Estate here in Falls Church City. Theresa Sullivan Twiford, Advon Real Estate, LLC Director of Land Use and Development/ Realtor 929 West Broad Street, Falls Church, VA 22046 (o) 703-663-7171 • (c) 307-413-2872 •



SPRING 2017 | PAGE 17

B����� M�M�������

A Falls Church Architect’s Evolving Focus



Jeff DuBro wants to renovate your house. Scratch that — he wants to reinvent your home. Drawing inspiration from the University of Virginia’s architectural school, his parents’ ballroom dance studio and Zen Buddhism, the lead man for Maple Avenue’s DuBro Architects and Builders in Falls Church doesn’t callously craft new additions and features for your house. He absorbs each space, reflects on its connective tissue and infuses the experiential nature of the residents into the design. All of that is done to turn a hollow house into an animated home. “There’s a relationship between things, ideas, people and energies that help us find a place,” DuBro said. “The translation of that was easily found in architecture and what develops into a home. Historically, that’s a gigantic part of our existence — how do you live?” DuBro penned a guest commentary for the News-Press in January on the desensitization of truly living in a home, a trend he learned firsthand while flipping houses during the early 2000s. Back then, the Falls Church architect strived to make his projects more than just another McMansion (a term that still causes him to cringe). He added custom kitchen islands or bridges to his renovations to give them some flare. However, the aesthetic embellishments often cost DuBro as potential buyers would pass on his property and rewarded developers that hugged the bottom line instead. By 2007-08 DuBro had been thwarted by the market too many times and decided to shift his

enterprise’s direction. “It gave us that kick in the shorts to say, ‘What do we want to be doing here?’” he said. “‘What is our place architecturally [and] as a business? How can we give something relevant to the market that makes sense and is also innovative, exciting, fresh and resourceful?’ “I started to realize that doing the big houses wasn’t really the ticket for that. I wanted our work to be accessible, and I believed that good design should be a right. It shouldn’t be this elitist thing.” From that point on DuBro began to sculpt the future of his company. He fostered relationships with clients so they felt intimately attached to their new home. He discarded the rigid styles houses conform to and opted for understanding the “a-stylistic language” of the home to dictate a design’s direction. Weaving together considerations for the environment and how structures interacted with neighboring houses were also paramount to DuBro as he transformed the homes. All of these elements factored into the company’s new mantra of “living architecture” — a not-so-subtle jab at the cavernous McMansion’s that reluctantly occupy DuBro’s early portfolio. The projects came to defy industry standards in more ways than one. When assessing the panorama of American houses from coast to coast, DuBro spotted missed opportunities. A home in Topeka shouldn’t mirror one built in Arlington. There was never an effort to construct intrinsically unique spaces or be thoughtful about the culture surrounding the houses.

JEFF DUBRO AND FELLOW ARCHITECT Lucia Dunin-Borkowski reviewing a �loorplan for one of their homes. (P����: J��� D�B��) That needed to change, and DuBro found ways to make it happen while turning a profit in the process. Ecological footprints of houses needed to be addressed as well. Newer houses touted their “green” designations, but rarely lived up to the moniker. Again, DuBro elected not to fall in line with the conflicting concepts of the housing market. “‘Green’ has been so bastardized. It ends up becoming a marketing slogan for people and is misplaced so many times,” he said. “We’re in the process of trying to develop a new paradigm, a new way of looking at what’s green. We want to be this ‘jade’

builder where it’s more holistic thinking. Jade is applied green, so you take this idea of green and apply it.” Creating discourse about the difference between houses, homes and how design can embody the people living within them is a principal objective of DuBro’s. A strict reliance on the raw economics when developing a property leaves the house detached and often at odds with its inhabitants. Acknowledging the significance of the pre-existing features while determining which areas are suffocated of meaning are critical to the architect’s progression through any project. It’s why he likens a home to a well-fitted garment. You know

right away by how it embraces its residents that the home seamlessly meshes with their lifestyles. Much like the Victorian houses peppered throughout the Little City, DuBro’s homes carry on the spirit of their time by representing what’s important to the citizens of Falls Church. But that doesn’t make the job any easier. For DuBro, inherently caring about the finished product presents the greatest obstacle. “The challenge is the love,” he said. “Being able to develop a concept that makes sense and develop it into something that can be crafted and actually have somebody live in it. That’s the most gratifying process aside from raising kids that I can imagine.”

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PAGE 18 | SPRING 2017


Falls Church Area Housing Market — 4th Quarter 2016 Report Zip Code


Average Price

Number of Homes Sold

Average Days on Market


Falls Church City





Bailey’s Crossroads





Sleepy Hollow





Pimmit Hills





Lake Barcroft




Home Sales Vs. 1 Year Ago

Home Prices Vs. 1 Year Ago

Change in # of Homes Sold: 4Q ‘16 vs 4Q ‘15

Change in Average Home Price: 4Q ‘16 vs 4Q ‘15




Change in Falls Church City (22046)



Change in Falls Church City (22046)



Change in Sleepy Hollow (22042)


Change in Sleepy Hollow (22042)


Change in Pimmit Hills (22043)


Change in Pimmit Hills (22043)


Change in Lake Barcroft (22044)


Change in Lake Barcroft (22044)

Source: Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, Inc. Copyright © 2017 Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, Inc.



Real Estate

SPRING 2017 | PAGE 19

Top Falls Church Home Sales


#1 $2,050,000

#2 $1,600,000

#4 $1,335,000 #3 $1,560,000 Top 5 F.C. Home Sales December 1, 2016 – February 28, 2017 Address #1 3620 Ridgeway Ter. #2 2229 Primrose Dr. #3 201 Patterson St. #4 3519 Duff Dr. #5 6546 Orland St.


6 6 6 5 4


4 5 5 5 3

HB 1 1 1 1 1

List Price

$2,200,000 $1,600,000 $1,649,995 $1,349,900 $1,299,000

Sale Price

$2,050,000 $1,600,000 $1,560,000 $1,335,000 $1,300,000


22044 22046 22046 22041 22043

Date Sold 12/2/16 2/23/17 12/14/16 1/11/17 12/1/16

Source: MRIS, Inc.; Photos: MRIS, Falls Church News-Press

#5 $1,300,000

Re spring2017  

Falls Church News-Press Spring Real Estate Guide 2017

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