The area between the Dunn Loring/Merrifield metro and down to Rt 50 is seeing a lot of change these days. Apart from the development around the metro station itself, the area off Rt 29 and Gallows is unrecognizable. Gone are the gas stations, the repair shop with the gnomes(Jonston’s Garage), Taco Bell and the car towing company. While I do miss the Taco Bell at times, some may say that even the current flat-scape is better than what was before…
Some may remember the tale of the first new entrant to the area, the Vantage at Merrifield. It was a brand new building with an unbeatable top-of-the-market combination of new condos and retail/gym. When sales opened at the height of the boom there was chaos at the weekend only sales office (located at the Silver Diner across the street the few days it took to sell out.)
By the time we got to the summer 2008 completion date the condo market had crashed. As everywhere else the purchasers tried getting out of their contract and get their 10-20% (non-refundable) security deposit returned. As a result, Vantage was converted to rental apartments (with a few of the units remaining in private hands.)
Despite the rocky start and unfortunate timing, the two blocks of apartments, x-sport, retail and restaurants have since taken on the feel of a small towncenter of its own. On a nice day, people sit outside at the restaurants and there certainly is a sense of a community starting to develop.
With the Mosaic District under construction next door, Vantage at Merrifield may be vindicated in the end. In not too long the area should start to look like a small downtown with the Angelika Film Center, Target, Mom’s Organic Market, Hotel Sierra, Black’s Bar and Kitchen, matchbox, Taylor Gourmet, a new Eya residential neighborhood and more.