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Ask Adam: The Future of Ballston

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This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos of Arlington-based real estate firm Arbour Realty, voted one of Arlington Magazine’s Best Realtors of 2013 & 2014. Please submit your questions via email.

I just watched the Ballston BID development plan video on YouTube. How do you expect the plans to effect condo values in the area? I’m interested in both the next couple of years when we’ll continue to be “under construction” in a big way vs. 2017 when much of it should be complete.

For those who have not seen the video, it’s an animated rendering of what the future of Ballston may look like. It includes improvements such as:

  • Seating for outdoor entertainment in front of the Ballston Metro station.
  • Additional landscaping and water features in front of the Ballston Metro station.
  • The exterior of the Ballston Metro station is a colorful work of art.
  • Attractive landscaping has been added to the medians along Fairfax Drive.
  • There is an outdoor market in Welburn Square (901 N. Taylor Street).
  • A “beachfront,” “cloud” and “forest of knowledge” art projects are displayed in Welburn Square.
  • New trash and recycling receptacles.
  • A new Marymount University building on the corner of Fairfax and Glebe.
  • A gateway sign signifying the entrance to Ballston.
  • A new “parklet” on Glebe. I’ve not heard of this term before seeing the video, but it seems to be a tiny park area designed for relaxing and conversing.
  • Digital banners displaying points of interest.
  • Bocce court park outside Ballston mall.
  • Completion of the new Liberty Center block.
  • The fully renovated Ballston mall with outdoor facing shops and dining.

In my opinion the renovation of Ballston Common Mall alone will significantly improve interest in Ballston. The mall in its current form has been the black eye of Ballston since Ballston began shedding its rough-around-the-edges image back in the early 1990s. Not only is it going away, it is being replaced by an attractive building by today’s standards with shops and dining that will cater to the demographic who live along the Orange Line.

Clarendon has long been the leader in condo values and the highest cost per square foot in Northern Virginia. I don’t expect Ballston condo values to exceed those in Clarendon, but with improvements like the ones described above, I think that they will catch up.

I took the average cost per square foot for the last three sales at two comparable condo buildings — The Phoenix in Clarendon and Liberty Center in Ballston. The Phoenix is currently selling for a little over 2 percent more than Liberty Center. Going back to last year around this time, the difference was over 4 percent. Maybe the current improvements in Ballston along with speculation of what’s to come, is already closing the gap between Ballston and Clarendon condo values.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

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