Red Brick Homes and Red Bikes: Life in DC's Fairfax Village

  • September 19th 2011

by Sarah Godfrey

Red Brick Homes and Red Bikes: Life in DC's Fairfax Village: Figure 1
Fairfax Village

Fairfax Village, a 54-acre condo and townhouse development in Southeast Washington’s Hillcrest neighborhood, is so large that it’s often referred to as its own neighborhood. With 660 apartment-style condo units, 166 townhomes, and an adjacent shopping center that also bears the Fairfax Village name, it’s easy to see why people see it that way.

“We’re our own enclave,” says Veronica Davis, current president of the Fairfax Village IV condo association, and the voice behind the blog Life in the Village.

Built in the 1940s as housing for retired federal workers and Capitol Hill staffers, the units at Fairfax Village were converted from rentals to condominiums in 1976. By DC standards, home prices are rock bottom; condos in the garden-style community start in the low $100,000s for one-bedroom units and newly renovated townhomes fetch somewhere in the $300,000 range. Phyllis Lee, who moved to Fairfax Village in the 1970s and served as a condo association president for 12 years, said that it’s relatively easy to have home improvements approved by the community.

In part because the community members are in constant contact, crime is low. On a recent afternoon, Davis and Lee stood in front of Davis’ building, and greeted a mail carrier, a community police officer, and many Fairfax Village residents by name. “If people don’t see me for a couple of days, they’ll call to check on me,” Davis says.

Officer Jonathan LaFrance, the designated Metropolitan Police Department beat officer for the community, confirms that residents are vigilant about reporting crime, and that theft from vehicles is typically the sort of thing he hears the most complaints about.

The community has a lot of single female residents, according to Davis and Lee, something that hasn’t changed much since The Washington Post profiled the community in 1993. “It’s the perfect place for single men of all ages!” Davis exclaimed. The condo association has also noticed an influx of families moving into the development, likely because of the affordability and proximity to Beers Elementary School, a model DC public school, which is a short walk from the complex.

Red Brick Homes and Red Bikes: Life in DC's Fairfax Village: Figure 2

Fairfax Village is close to a number of bus routes and the Naylor Road Metro station on the Green Line is several blocks to the south, but now people are also getting around by those ubiquitous red bicycles that can be seen all over the city. Davis was instrumental in getting a Fairfax Village Capital Bikeshare station, and says it’s now her chief mode of transportation.

“I haven’t moved my car in almost a week,” she says. For those who do travel by car, street parking in Fairfax Village is plentiful during the day, but spaces quickly fill up after 5 p.m. The community has off-street parking spaces, which can be rented, and off-street garage spaces, which are available for purchase.

Davis says the one thing Fairfax Village could use is somewhere to “sit down and get a cup of coffee.” The Fairfax Village Shopping Center contains a Papa John’s Pizza, a nail shop, and a couple of other small businesses, but no sit-down eatery. Residents can easily drive into Prince George’s County — Fairfax Village sits on the P.G./DC line — and find restaurants, grocery stores, and big box retailers such as Target, but they’d like to see more businesses within walking distance of their homes. If development in the area continues at its current pace, that could happen sooner rather than later. A Flexcare pharmacy just moved into the Fort Davis Shopping Center on Alabama Avenue becoming the strip’s shiny new anchor, and residents are looking forward to the opening of the new, state-of-the-art Francis A. Gregory Public Library on 36th Place SE, which should be completed by early 2012.

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/red_bikes_and_red_brick_homes_life_in_dcs_fairfax_village/4173.

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