Residents raise traffic concerns during DMV meeting - Park Authority looks to relocate Mary Read Memorial - More dedicated pickleball courts coming to the area

Big Blue Swim School confirms it’s coming to Fair City Mall - FCPS to begin offering four days of in-person instruction - ‘Taste of Annandale’ to return in October

Welcome to Braddock Buzz, where we’re thrilled to announce that Braddock Buzz author Austin Wright has a novel coming out this week. It’s called “The Sheriff,” and it’s co-written with Austin’s longtime collaborator, Robert Dwyer. NYT bestselling author Jeff Guinn says it “has a chance to be judged one of those rare modern Western fiction classics.”

If you’re interested in a rip-roaring Old West adventure, or if you just want to support a local author, we hope you’ll check out the Amazon page.

As always, send news, tips, feedback, and more to braddockbuzz@gmail.com.

Thank you to our sponsors:

  • Realtor Jennifer Mack, whose column this week answers the question, “Could the extreme sellers market be cooling off?” Reach out to Jennifer with column suggestions or real estate questions at jennifer@jennifermackproperties.com.

  • The Wakefield Chapel Recreation Association, which has a limited number of memberships still available. Are you looking for a neighborhood swim club that offers premier swim and dive programs, youth and adult tennis instruction, and an awesome social calendar that has something for every member of your family? Visit wakefieldchapelrec.org to join today!

Park Authority looks to relocate Mary Read Memorial: The Park Authority is considering a relocation and/or redesign of the Mary Read Memorial in Canterbury Woods Park. The memorial, installed in 2008 at the intersection of Braddock and Wakefield Chapel roads, is named for a graduate of Annandale High School who was killed in the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting. The memorial site has become extremely prone to flooding, leaving it in poor condition, as you can see in this photo:

“Concerned citizens have approached the Park Authority and the Braddock District Supervisor’s Office advocating changes to the memorial to enhance its appearance and improve its sustainability,” said Ed Richardson, an official with the Park Authority. “Possibilities discussed so far include improving drainage around the existing memorial, simplifying the existing memorial, deleting existing elements and adding others, relocating the memorial within Canterbury Woods Park, and relocating it to another park near Ms. Read’s childhood home. Discussions are ongoing.”

Braddock District Supervisor James Walkinshaw’s office provided a list of new locations under consideration:

  • Canterbury Woods Park (two potential relocation sites)

  • Kings Park

  • Rutherford Park

  • Wakefield Park (three potential relocation sites)

  • Americana Park

The original construction of the memorial was overseen by the Park Authority, with the understanding that it would be maintained by private individuals. This arrangement will continue if the memorial is moved or redesigned, and a group of citizens has come forward to express interest in maintaining the revamped site, according to Walkinshaw’s communications director, Brian Garcia. 

Garcia noted that Walkinshaw has been in communication with the Read family about plans for the memorial.

“The most important thing is that the Read family, since they’re still living in the area, are kept in the loop and that we have their blessing,” he said. “We want to see a nice location where the Read family and those from the community who loved her can come and pay their respects and have something that’s worthy of her legacy.”

Braddock District News

Residents raise traffic concerns during DMV meeting: During a virtual meeting last week, residents voiced concern that a planned DMV service center near Kings Park West would increase traffic on an already severely congested Braddock Road. In response, Virginia DMV Commissioner Richard Holcomb said in-person DMV appointments are declining, with services increasingly conducted online or by mail. He also pledged that all road skills testing would take place on a closed course in the parking lot—and not on Braddock Road or in the surrounding neighborhoods.

The new service center, to be located at 9911 Braddock Road, will replace the former service center in the Fair Oaks Mall, which Holcomb said no longer accommodated DMV’s needs and cost $200,000 per year in rent. Construction of the new, 15,400-square-foot facility is scheduled to begin this summer and wrap up by the spring or summer of 2022.

Because the new service center is a state project on state-owned land, the DMV is not required to follow county land use procedures, which would have required community input. Last week’s virtual meeting was only scheduled after Braddock District Supervisor Walkinshaw contacted Holcomb to express disappointment that DMV officials “had not updated the community on their plan, engaged residents, or received input that could inform and improve the project,” as Walkinshaw said in a statement.

More dedicated pickleball courts coming to the area: During a virtual meeting last week on plans to repurpose two platform tennis courts at Wakefield Park, pickleball advocates made clear they feel the proposal falls short of their desire for at least six dedicated courts in central Fairfax. The Park Authority’s response: Hang tight. Officials repeatedly emphasized that broader plans for creating new pickleball courts would be released early this summer as part of a comprehensive study—and that this would include both repurposing existing tennis courts for pickleball and building new courts.

More background on the Wakefield Park proposal is available in our March 15 edition. Public comment is being accepted through May 8 at parkmail@fairfaxcounty.gov, with construction set to begin in the late spring or early summer.

Sponsor Message

Wakefield Chapel Recreation Association has limited memberships available

Business

Big Blue confirms it’s coming to Fair City Mall: Big Blue Swim School has confirmed it plans to open a new location in the Fair City Mall, at the intersection of Route 236 and Pickett Road. As we reported in our last edition, the shopping center owners are in discussions with Fairfax City about bringing in new tenants including Big Blue, Sierra, HomeGoods, and possibly a Burlington. “We do not have an opening date as we still need to build the pool,” said Big Blue spokesperson Wendy Artman. 

The company, which bills itself as “one of the nation’s fastest growing swim school franchises,” offers lessons for children ages six months to 12. It’s also opening a new location in Chantilly and recently acquired the Tom Dolan Swim School, which has locations in Dulles and Falls Church.

“Our intent is to make a big splash in Northern Virginia, because it is densely populated with families dedicated to ensuring their children have the important life skill of learning to swim and being safer near water,” Big Blue founder and president Chris DeJong said in a statement.

Featured Photo

Two youngsters enjoy the Easter Egg Hunt hosted by the Wakefield Chapel Recreation Association in western Annandale on April 3. Photo courtesy of Lisa Sheldon Photography.

Schools

Return to School Updates

  • This month, FCPS will begin transitioning students at all grade levels to four days per week of in-person instruction, as Superintendent Scott Brabrand said in a message to FCPS families. This was prompted by the CDC’s decision to reduce its recommended distancing for students from six feet to three feet.

  • The transition will be contingent on each school’s capacity and staff availability. Some schools, including Wakefield Forest Elementary, may not be able to offer four days of in-person instruction to every student who wants it. “WFES already has a high percentage of students reporting in-person and we will not be able to offer 4 days of in-person instruction for all in-person students based on capacity and staffing,” Principal Sharyn Prindle said in a message to the community in which she laid out how students would be prioritized.

  • In-person summer school is expected to be offered five days a week and “be at a scale 10 times what is normal for summer school,” Brabrand told WTOP. This will include the ability to retake classes that students failed during the academic year. “If you received an ‘F’ here at the end of the year, you will be able to have a no mark recorded and go to summer school to turn that ‘F’ into a passing grade,” Brabrand said.

News in Brief

  • Many park amusements are reopening for the spring, including boating, carousels, and mini golf at Lake Accotink, Burke Lake, and others.

  • “Taste of Annandale” is set to return this October after being canceled last year because of the pandemic, the Annandale Blog reports. The festival, which drew more than 5,000 people in 2019, will feature food trucks, live entertainment, a 5k race, and more.

  • Vaccine eligibility will expand to all Virginians age 16 and older as of next Sunday, April 18.

  • An alleged act of racism occurred during a JV football game between Robinson Secondary School and T.C. Williams. According to social media accounts cited in a Washingtonian story, at least one Robinson player spat on and used a racial slur against a player for T.C. Williams—causing the T.C. Williams team to leave the field early in protest.

  • Mauro Cruz Cortes, 45, of Culpepper, died April 5 while working as a contractor for a tree service company in Springfield. A police report says Cortes was 40-45 feet above ground and secured to the tree limb he was standing on when the limb broke and he fell to the ground. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Events

  • Tuesday, April 13-Thursday, April 15: The Board of Supervisors will hold a series of meetings to receive public input on the county’s proposed FY22 budget. More info here.

  • Saturday, April 17, 10 a.m.: A dedication ceremony will be held at Lake Accotink Park for the new Margaret Kinder Education and Pollinator Garden. The event will be livestreamed. Details here.

Real Estate

Sponsored Content 

Jennifer Mack column: Could the extreme sellers market be cooling off?

Inventory is starting to pick up in Northern Virginia. Clients who used to ask to see one house at a time are now asking to see three to four houses in one outing—which is a signal to me that there are more potential homes to pick from.

Does this mean we could finally be getting some relief from the extreme sellers market? It’s a bit too soon to tell, but we should know within five or six weeks whether prices are being impacted. As of the end of March, we were still seeing record closings. It isn't uncommon to see single family homes selling for 50-100K over asking price. 

In some cases, buyers are exiting the market due to extreme buyer fatigue. This can set in for buyers who are tired of losing out on homes. The thought of potentially having to waive a home inspection or appraisal contingency is scary for many buyers, who may decide it’s worth holding off. 

On the seller’s side, some homeowners are seeing the escalating prices and jumping on the bandwagon to take advantage of the hot market, especially if they have a place to go next. 

Despite the extreme sellers market, it’s evident to me that a home still needs to be priced well and presented well to command the best prices. Not every house is selling in record time and when they don't, price or condition is typically to blame. The most effective thing you can do if you’re thinking about selling anytime soon is begin the process of purging extra items that you don’t plan to take with you to your next home. 

Almost any home stager will tell you to remove as many items as possible so the home feels decluttered and spacious. With Covid restrictions, this is sometimes easier said than done—so start the process early and don't hesitate to reach out for an introduction to some of my valued partners in this area who can be a great resource. They strive to donate or recycle as many items as possible so they don't end up in a landfill.

Jennifer Mack has more than 15 years of experience in the real estate industry, with her team servicing Virginia, Maryland, and D.C. Contact her at jennifer@jennifermackproperties.com or by calling 703-672-0038.

Select Listings

8627 Appleton Ct, Annandale | 4 beds, 2.5 baths, 3,176 sf | $875,000

10504 Sideburn Ct, Fairfax | 5 beds, 3.5 baths, 4,172 sf | $875,000

10700 Deneale Pl, Fairfax | 6 beds, 3.5 baths, 4,300 sf | $825,000

9420 Braddock Rd, Fairfax | 4 beds, 2.5 baths, 2,464 sf | $800,000

7420 Windy Pines Pl, Annandale | 4 beds, 3.5 baths, 3,084 sf | $799,900

Top Sales

8280 Private Ln, Annandale | 4 beds, 3.5 baths, 4,050 sf | 6 days on market | $1,100,000

10727 Basket Oak Ct, Burke | 5 beds, 3.5 baths, 3,120 sf | 2 days on market | $1,011,000

8706 Chippendale Ct, Annandale | 5 beds, 2.5 baths, 2,062 sf | 2 days on market | $885,000

4704 Declaration Ct, Annandale | 5 beds, 2.5 baths, 2,112 sf | 2 days on market | $857,500

5638 Fort Corloran Dr, Burke | 5 beds, 4 baths, 1,596 sf | 6 days on market | $830,000